Australian sentenced to 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy

This story comes from today’s UK Guardian. Just reading the headline motivated me to conjure up some image of a rather rough ex-pat having a few beers and so started saying a few things within earshot of some religious thugs in Saudi … but no, it is not that at all. Instead, it concerns a rather religious Muslim from Iraq who just happened to have moved to Australia, and had taken up Australian citizenship. Being a committed Muslim, he was on a religious visit to Saudi when he got picked up and tossed in jail. Why? well thats a very good question because his son Jamal told The Age newspaper that his father was reading and praying when he was arrested. – is that a crime in Saudi? Apparently it is if your beliefs are not quite the same as theirs.

The background here is that Mr Almaribe, a Shiite Muslim, had travelled to Saudi Arabia to make the Haj pilgrimage when he ran afoul of religious police and was accused of insulting companions of the prophet Muhammad. The problem is that Shiite Muslims are routinely discriminated against in the majority Sunni nation because they hold slightly different beliefs, and so now due to this clash of beliefs this chap has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in jail …

There are two issues here …

  • Freedom of speech is demonstrated to be meaningless when faced with the utter insanity of the draconian religious blasphemy laws in Saudi … a year in jail and 500 lashes for “insulting” the companions of the prophet … these people are barbarians. The way these religious thugs are carrying on you would think that Mr Almaribe had whipped out his dick out and personally pissed all over some shrine, but no, not even that took place.
  • Freedom of thought is also demonstrated to be meaningless when faced with the open discrimination against any who do not adhere to a specific belief. I do not personally agree that Mr Almaribe’s Shiite beliefs are rational or true, but I do respect his right to believe whatever he wishes and to practise that belief in whatever way he wishes as long as he dose not impose those beliefs on others.

What is actually at the root of all this is a conflict of different religious beliefs. Some claim that Abu Bakr and Umar (companions of Muhammad) along with their daughters Aisha and Hafsa were involved in a number of heinous crimes amongst which was assassination of Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima al-Zahra. Members of other Islamic sects consider this to be an Insult. Thats it … that is all we have here.

Now that is truly how utterly insane all this is – it all rotates around what folks believe some people did over 1400 years ago.

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