The NY Times is reporting that Saudi King Abdullah has pardoned a female gang rape victim known as the Qatif girl. The woman had been sentenced to 200 lashes for meeting privately with her ex-fiance, but don't get the idea that Islamic justice is anything other than a system of institutionalized evil run by a morally warped, primitive people. The underlying system of Islamic brutality that masquerades as justice remains intact and unquestioned.
Commenting on the pardon, the Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik, told Al Jazirah that the king fully supported the verdicts against the woman but had decided to pardon her because it was in the “interests of the people.”
Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University who specializes in Saudi Arabia, said that this is a kind of “double message” that is commonly employed by the Saudi government.
“On one hand this tells people, ‘We support our system and we will punish you if you violate it,’ ” he said. “Yet he’s also showing mercy. Throughout, he’s making it clear that he is not disagreeing with the judge’s opinion on this sensitive issue of sexual chastity, but he believes that there is a higher interest to be served by the pardon, whether that’s relationships between Shiites and Sunnis, or international opinion.”
“Conservative scholars and judges will still take this pardon as a slap in the face,” Dr. Haykel continued.
“These decisions are always made like this, ad hoc, so that the core values and institutions of the Saudi state are not questioned or threatened.”
There is no word yet on whether the ex-boyfriend who was also gang raped would be spared the 90 lashes he was sentenced to for meeting privately with his ex-fiance. While the female victim's sentence ignited a storm of criticism in the West, liberal Westerners who are more interested in identity politics than justice were utterly indifferent toward the Saudi judge's punishment of the male rape victim.
For many liberals, woman-as-victim rather than justice-for-all serves as the basic interpretive template for the Qatif story. This isn't the least bit surprising. Political identities always seem to demand moral inconsistency in exchange for club membership.
I find that I can't call myself a conservative or a liberal anymore and I suspect fundamental corruption of anyone who reaches the fifth or sixth decade of life still wearing such a label without some sense of ambivalence.