A Spine for a Spine with Shariah; Creeping Islamic Fundamentalist Law Threatens Human Rights

Article excerpt


Many today chant a mantra demanding justice, but just what does that mean? Let's look at how one court in Saudi Arabia interprets justice pursuant to Shariah law.

Recently, Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef, a Saudi judge, made inquiries at two hospitals asking if they would be able to medically damage a defendant's spine. He is considering this as punishment for a defendant who attacked 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, rendering him paralyzed. The defendant had been ordered to spend 14 months in jail, but after seven months, he was granted amnesty and is teaching at a university. The victim's brother requested that the judge consider ordering a spine for a spine, explaining that we are asking for our legal rights under Islamic [Shariah] law. One of the hospitals, King Khaled Hospital in Tabuk province, answered the judge's inquiry in the affirmative. To date, the judge has not made a final determination on the victim's brother's request.

So what is Shariah law? Shariah law is a strict interpretation of Islamic law that merges mosque and state. It is a complete system that encompasses the legal, spiritual, political, economic and personal aspects of life. It mandates gender apartheid among those who are not married and, in its extreme form, forbids women to be outside the home without being escorted by a male relative. It requires strict dress codes, eating codes and behavioral codes. Music and dancing are forbidden. Freedom of religion and expression is severely restricted. Criminal punishments are cruel and excessive. Various forms of Shariah law are implemented in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Pakistan and by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also is implemented in numerous other Muslim-majority localities.

Governments ruled by Shariah law regularly violate international standards of human rights, fail to meet legal standards of due process and mete out punishments that are contrary to international torture conventions. For example, Saudi Arabia holds its trials behind closed doors, does not allow defendants adequate legal counsel or due process, often refrains from informing the defendants of the charges against them, and communicates death sentences on the day of execution. According to the State Department, Saudi Arabia holds men-only elections and tramples upon numerous civil liberties. Discrimination against women, children and minorities is institutionalized. As in all Shariah-governed countries, adultery, homosexuality and apostasy constitute capital offenses.

Additionally, the principle of an eye for an eye is often interpreted literally. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia and other countries governed by Shariah law, court-ordered amputation of arms and legs is not uncommon. …