Monday, May 16, 2005

Reformists imprisoned in Dar al-Islam

I thought democracy and Islam were compatible, but how can one have democracy without freedom?

The latest from our "ally" in the War on Terror: Saudi reformists get harsh penalty.
"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- In a stunning setback for reformists in Saudi Arabia, a Riyadh court yesterday sentenced three detained Saudi reformists to jail terms ranging from six to nine years for sowing dissent and disobeying the ruler.

Three judges at the court, which was ringed by security forces, issued their verdict after a nine-month trial, which was conducted almost entirely behind closed doors.
The court sentenced Ali Al-Dumaini to nine years in jail, Abdullah Al-Hamed to seven years in jail, and Matruk Al-Faleh to six years in jail.

The academics have been imprisoned for more than a year after being arrested in March 2004 for calling for a constitutional monarchy, an independent judiciary and freedom of speech. The prosecutors had accused them of using Western terminology in calling for their reforms. "
In case there was any doubt that this is more than just a tyrant trying to retain power, consider this:
"Mr. Al-Dumaini reportedly received the harshest sentence because of his criticism of the Saudi educational system, which he said was responsible for producing terrorists."
The government maintains the rule of Sharia. If the government did not have a king, but was still ruled by Islam, would it be any different? It doesn't seem likely.

Whether the tyrant is a god (Allah) or a man (Saud), there is no room for those who disagree.
"I'm in shock," said Jamila Al-Ukala, the wife of Mr. Al-Faleh, as she spoke with supporters and reporters yesterday outside the courthouse.

"They didn't commit a crime. From the beginning, there was no evidence against them," said Ameer Al-Faleh, the 23-year-old son of Mr. Al-Faleh. "The whole case is just about thoughts that were just ink on paper."
The Qur'an's words are "just ink on paper," yet they have directly resulted in the enslavement, rape, and murder of millions of non-Muslims throughout Islam's history.
"Mr. Gothaimi said the panel of judges found that the men had overstepped the bounds by speaking to the foreign press, supposedly with the intent to incite people against the government The men also were accused of challenging the independence of the judiciary. "
Does anyone else get the irony here? A democratically-elected President and Congress would facilitate American justice with the additions of much-needed judges who respect the U.S. Constitution, but the Democratic Party instead is trying to circumvent the will of the people using the same terminology.
"This verdict is a reflection of how bad our courts are," said Mohammed Alanezi, a supporter of the reformists. "They are centuries behind. We are now going downhill."
That would be about fourteen centuries behind, wouldn't it?
"The Saudi regime is determined to stifle reasonable and peaceful voices for reform in the country," said Ali Alyami, the Washington-based director of the opposition Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. "Surely, it is time for the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress to stop regarding the Saudi royal family as sacrosanct and start holding them accountable for their violations of human rights".
Yes, it is time for accountability, but not only for the House of Saud. It is time to hold Islam accountable.