Saudi penal policy

March 7th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting article from the Washington Post:

The Saudi government essentially puts each inmate’s family on welfare. The government gives them money for food, rent and school fees, and it pays airfare and hotel expenses for families to come visit – even for foreign prisoners whose families live overseas.

Escorted by guards, many prisoners (except those convicted of murder) are allowed to attend funerals and weddings of close family members, and they are given as much as $2600 in cash to present as a wedding gift.

After the presentation, we visited the Family Home, a hotel within the prison that is used to reward prisoners for good behavior. The hotel has 18 large suites, which can sleep as many as nine family members and have lots of fresh flowers, a well-stocked buffet and a playground for children.

Officials said the government spent $35 million last year on those perks.

“Just because someone is a criminal, we do not punish his family, too,” Ahmed said. “Our strategy is to take care of these people to make the community better. This is what Islam tells us to do.”

The majority of the 3500 inmates in the five high-security prisons have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses, including al-Qaeda attacks inside the Saudi kingdom, that happened before the rise of the Islamic State last year.

General Mansour al-Turki, spokesman for the powerful Ministry of Interior, whose Mabahith secret police run the high-security prisons, said taking care of inmates’ families is part of the Saudi strategy of trying to rehabilitate radicals.

The Saudis have a long-standing program of placing those convicted of terrorism-related offenses in an intensive program of education and religious study designed to try to alter their thinking and behavior.

Inmates in the high-security prisons start with months-long in-depth courses inside the prisons. When they finish their sentence, they are transferred to one of two large rehabilitation centers, in Riyadh and in Jiddah, for further studies.

“If you lose these inmates when they are in prison, they will come out of prison more radical,” Turki said, adding that supporting their families also helps make sure they, too, don’t “fall into the hands of the terrorists.”

Turki said that about 20 percent of those who have gone through the rehabilitation program have returned to terrorism-related activities.

If the recidivism rate is only 20%, that’s pretty good. I like the focus on education and study to try and change their views – plus keepng them in touch with their families.


The barbarity of Saudi Arabia towards women

November 30th, 2012 at 3:04 pm by David Farrar

Luke Harding at the Guardian reports:

Saudi Arabia has been accused of behaving like Big Brother after introducing technology that alerts male “guardians” by text whenever women under their guardianship leave the country.

The kingdom already bans women from driving and excludes them from most workplaces. It also disapproves of women’s sport. Since last week it has been operating a new electronic system that tracks all cross-border movements.

The system functions even if a woman is travelling with her husband or male “guardian”, with a text sent immediately to the man. Saudi women must get formal approval from their guardians to travel abroad, and have to hand in an infamous “yellow slip”, signed by a male, at the airport or border.

Women in Saudi Arabia are like chattels. Their culture is deeply flawed, to put it mildly.

Women need the permission of their guardian to marry, divorce, travel, study, get a job, open a bank account, have non-vital surgery etc. I suspect slaves only had a few more rights than some women in Saudia Arabia.

If a Saudi woman’s husband dies, and she wishes to remarry – she needs the permission of her son!

And don’t even start me on honor killings or sentencing rape victims to punishments because they were alone with a man.

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A small step forward

July 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Saudi Arabia is to send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time, with a judoka and an 800m runner representing the kingdom in London, the International Olympic Committee said.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, who will compete in the 78-kg category in judo, and teenager Sarah Attar will be the first Saudi women ever to take part after talks between the IOC and the country.

“This is very positive news and we will be delighted to welcome these two athletes in London in a few weeks time,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge in a statement.

“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution.”

Thursday’s decision means that every country competing in the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics will be represented by both male and female athletes.

At the Atlanta Games in 1996, 26 nations sent no female athletes, the figure falling to just three in Beijing in 2008.

Progress, but said we are 12 years into the 21st century and this is still an issue.

In recent months human rights groups urged the IOC to ban Saudi Arabia from the Games unless it agreed to send women.

Powerful Saudi clerics denounce women for taking part in sport, saying it goes against their nature.

Women in Saudi Arabia are regarded as minors and require the permission of their guardian – father, brother, or husband – to leave the country and in some cases even to work. They are not allowed to drive.

Attar, 17, said she was honoured by the prospect of competing for her country at London 2012.

“A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going,” she said at her training base in San Diego, California.

“It’s such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport,” she told the official Olympic website (

Hopefully it will be a powerful symbol to Saudis, and a building block to a less repressive regime.

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Doubly revolting

December 14th, 2011 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

Bad enough this story, which has been around for a while:

An Afghan woman who was jailed for “forced adultery” after a relative raped her, and then officially pardoned after an international outcry over the case, is still in prison nearly two weeks after a judicial panel announced she could go free.

At least she no longer has to marry her rapist. But still, so incredibly fucked up.

Now we have the Saudis:

Rights group Amnesty International has described as “deeply shocking” Saudi Arabia’s beheading of a woman convicted on charges of “sorcery and witchcraft” saying it underlined the urgent need to end executions in the kingdom.

Saudi national Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was executed on Monday (locall time) in the northern province of al-Jawf after being tried and convicted for practicing sorcery, the interior ministry said, without giving details of the charges.

“The citizen… practiced acts of witchcraft and sorcery,” Saudi newspaper al-Watan cited the interior ministry as saying. “The death sentence was carried out on the accused yesterday (Monday) in the Qurayyat district in al-Jawf region.”

God, where do you start.

  1. There is no such thing as sorcery
  2. Hence sorcery should not be a crime. It’s like making astrology a crime.
  3. Executing someone for a fictious offence is barbaric
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More irony from the United Nations

November 17th, 2008 at 11:50 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports on how the United Nations is having a two day conference on religious tolerance. It has chosen Saudia Arabia to chair the conference.

Saudi Arabia:

  • bans the public practice of non-Islamic religions
  • views its interpretation of Islamic law as its sole source of guidance on human rights
  • Muslims who do not follow the official strict and conservative version of Sunni Islamcan face severe repercussions at the hands of Mutawwa’in (religious police)
  • forbids missionary work by any religion other than Wahabi/Salafi Islam
  • Jewish, Christian or Hindu houses of prayer are not allowed
  • the government can search the home of anyone and arrest or deport foreign workers for owning religious icons and symbols
  • Under Saudi law conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy, a crime punishable by death if the accused does not recant.

Yes the perfect country to chair a UN conference on religious tolerance – one that executes you if you swap to a non tolerated religion

Hat Tip: Micky’s Muses

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Thanks from the arrested Saudi blogger

May 19th, 2008 at 8:44 am by David Farrar

Both Poneke and myself received a very unexpected but lovely e-mail from Fouad al-Farhan, the Saudia Arabian blogger who was detained without charge for 137 days, and released finally last month. He thanked us for our support.

The Hive also did a lot and Poneke actually asked MFAT officials whether the NZ Government would take action. Sadly the most they would do is have a “watching brief”. No Right Turn, and no doubt other blogs, also lent their support. Oh yes the EPMU also supported the Government taking action.

While I am sure the blogs had no impact on the Saudi Government (hell we couldn’t even get the NZ Government to stand up for freedom of speech), Fouad says that he found it incredibly heartening to be released and read how people in NZ were advocating on his behalf. Through a NZ professional wrestler who once visited his vlllage to promote Anchor dairy products, he has always wanted to visit NZ.

Extracts from the e-mail:

Dear David, I’m Fouad Al-Farhan. I’m the Saudi Blogger who was arrested 137 days because of his political writing in Saudi Arabia. In the mid 80s when I was a kid, the famous New Zealand wrestler Tony Garea ( visited our small villiage here in Saudi Arabia (Albaha) on a marketing campaign to promote the famous NZ cheese (Anchor). In that days, wrestling meant a big thing to my people. My village people loved Tony Garea before his visit. When he arrived, they made a big welcome festival for him. They even danced and said poems about his heroism. I still remember parts of it.

I replied, pointing out that many Kiwis would find it very amusing that a professional wrestler promoting cheese was our most successful marketing campaign :-)

All my friends know about my dream of visiting New Zealand for a lengthy backpacking journey. I’m not sure if it’s going to happen anytime soon. I always have great admiration of the NZ people and the country. My best friend who was lucky to live there for a year keep telling me lovely stories about how peaceful and blessed your land is.

We do forget sometimes how lucky we are.

My government put me in a solitary confinement for 137 days. My cell was 2×3 meters. I never saw anybody except the interrogators once every couple of weeks. The rest of the days I was alone. They didn’t allow me to watch T.V, listen to radio, read any books or magazine or newspaper. I was not allowed to have a pen and a paper to write. I never saw the sun. I was completely cut off the world. All I had is our holy book (Quran) and prayer rug. So, I had a lot of time to think about my life. One of things that always came on mind in prison was New Zealand and my dream backpacking journey.

I can think of few things worse than solitary confinement. Hell I go crazy if I have nothing to do for even an hour on a plane. Five months with no Internet, no books, no music, no TV, and most of all no human contact would be unbearable.

I didn’t know that my case has reached NZ. I didn’t know that someone there in that beloved land thought, wrote, and cared about me. Internet is just great and you people deserve the land you love in. Your support and other NZ citizens like ( of my case meant a lot to me. It touched my heart deeply because I already have positive feelings toward your country and people since my childhood.

As I said, many NZ bloggers and others like the EPMU raised their voice in support. Getting this feedback from Faoud is a good reminder that we should be vocal more often.

I loved Tony Garea because my father did. I loved your country because of my best friend stories about it. These feelings have increased because of your support. I just can’t thank you enough for your support. It meant a lot to me more than you can imagine. Fouad Al-Farhan

Hopefully one day Fouad will be able to visit New Zealand. I suspect he will have no shortage of people willing to host him or show him around.

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Saudi blogger released

April 27th, 2008 at 3:45 pm by David Farrar

Associated Press reports that the Saudi blogger jailed without charges has finally been released:

Fouad al-Farhan was jailed for (ironically) writing about political prisoners.

It would be nice to say NZ had a hand in getting him released, but we bravely “monitored the situation” without even once saying to the Saud Government that sending people to jail merely for criticising the Government is a bad thing.

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