The degree of the ongoing human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia is frankly astonishing and so quite rightly they have been receiving rather a lot of robust fact based criticism. What has greatly helped to throw the spotlight upon it all has been their absurd and brutal treatment of Raif Badawi (pictured above), a writer and human rights advocate whose crime was to simply criticise them on his public website. For that alone he was jailed for 10 years, and also sentenced to be brutally beaten in the public square each and every friday, and now faces the possibility of a retrial and death sentence. In response there has been a rising tide of very public and vocal criticism from all around the world and so we now have a reply to that criticism from Saudi Arabia. The UK’s Independent reports …
In its first official statement on the case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would not allow outside interference with Saudi Arabia’s judicial system and that pressure from the media and human rights groups would have no impact on his punishment.
Mr Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – of which so far only 50 have been carried out – for using his liberal blog to criticise Saudi Arabia’s clerics. Judges in the country’s criminal court want him to undergo a retrial for apostasy, which carries the death sentence.
“The Kingdom cannot believe and strongly disapproves what has been addressed in some media outlets about the case of Citizen [Badawi] and the judicial sentence he has received,” the statement read.
… now put your coffee down, because this next bit truly takes your breath away, their claim is both bizarre and absurd …
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of the first States to promote and support human rights. Though these commitments are more than obvious, some international quarters and some media, regrettably, have emptied human rights of their sublime meanings,” it added.
The word, “Delusional” does not even begin to describe that utterly absurd stance, especially when faced with the raw facts, their track record for human rights is utterly appalling in so many different ways and ticks almost every single box on the list of on-going and endemic abuses, to be specific …
- No rights for women
- No political rights
- No freedom of belief
- No LBGT rights
- No freedom of the press
- No Justice
… so when is comes to abusing human rights, these folks stand way above all others.
It is within this context that some may try to play the Moral Relativism card and suggest that what we in our culture deem to be wrong, may in fact be acceptable and moral within some other cultural context, and so when they refer to their stance being moral and right, they are telling the truth.
That is quite frankly an absurd position to hold. Consider the following ideas …
- Murder is wrong
- Torturing people is wrong
- Compassion is good
- Rape, genocide, and racism is wrong
If you do indeed accept that moral relativism is a viable concept, then you would need to reject the above statements, yet doing that violates all that we truly are in so many ways, and is not a credible position to retain on either a personal basis or a philosophical basis.
Some try to counter-argue that because there is a disagreement on what is and is not moral then there must be no absolute moral position. OK, let’s try that logic in a different context to illustrate how silly it is.
- There is no agreement on the existence of a god, so there is no absolute answer to that question.
Yes that is rather silly bit of thinking, because regardless of the fact that there is disagreement, there is indeed an absolute answer to that question even when nobody can prove it, so somebody is clearly wrong. Morality is similar, and while there might indeed be disagreement, there is still an absolute answer; somebody is wrong. Moral relativism may be popular in some minds, but it is also seriously flawed and needs to be rejected, because the alternative is to accept that murder is just fine in some cultural contexts – no it is not.
The Human rights record of Saudi Arabia is by any and every rational measure wrong … intolerance, misogyny, homophobia, violence and religiously motivated brutality is not now moral, nor has it ever been, and so what is happening to Raif Badawi is a gross injustice.
The authorities in Saudi Arabia might indeed claim it is an internal matter, but criticism of human rights violations rises above any such assertions. They might also claim that their behaviour is just and moral, but it is not and it never has been.
“Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is utterly terrible. With a record of publicly beheading scores of people every year, imposing flogging and amputation sentences, banning protests and locking up peaceful activists – Saudi Arabia’s supposed ‘promotion’ of human rights is anything but.
“It should be pretty obvious that any aggression in the Raif Badawi case is coming from the Saudi authorities themselves, not least with their jaw-dropping sentence of 1,000 lashes for a blogger who dared to question the governance of the country.”
– Allan Hogarth, Amnesty’s UK’s head of policy and government affairs