My husband was perusing the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday and came across an article on page 13A announcing an important update regarding a story I mentioned in a previous post.
A few weeks ago, a Saudi woman known only as "the Girl of Qatif" was convicted of violating Islamic law because she was in a car with a man she wasn't related to when seven men attacked and raped them both in 2006. Despite being a victim of gang rape, the 19 year-old was sentenced to prison time and a public lashing for being alone with a man not her husband.
Despite the status of Saudi Arabia as a US ally, President Bush responded to the ruling with unusually strong criticism, saying if the same thing happened to one of his daughters he would be "angry at those who committed the crime. And I'd be angry at a state that didn't support the victim." Although Saudi officials bristled at the worldwide criticism, the pressure appeared too much and King Abdullah pardoned the young woman on Monday.
Interestingly, the announcement of the king's action was published on the front page of Al-Jazirah but it did not appear in any other local media or the state-run news agency. It seems that while the king of Saudi Arabia has some sense of what is right and just (even if he was shamed into it), he is not confident that the Wahhabi influenced Saudi legal system or its populist leaders are capable of the same. Perhaps rightly so.
I am grateful for this "righting of wrongs" in the case of "the Girl of Qatif." But, clearly much, much more remains to be done. Kings and princes cannot step in every time a misogynistic and unjust legal system goes awry. The government must change. The laws must change. And, for now, all I (we) can do is pray and speak the truth.