Saudi Arabia: Holy hypocrites

Published: January 17, 2015

She was dragged in the streets of the holy city of Makkah and brazenly beheaded for apparently sexually assaulting and murdering her step-daughter.

I was born in Saudi Arabia and am very closely accustomed to the grossly odd laws that exist within the nation, namely, and perhaps most famously, that women are not allowed to drive, that women have to don the black abaya when in public and that there is strict segregation between men and women most stringently enforced by the muttawas or religious police. 

I distinctly remember a muttawa once giving my mother a religious lecture over how she should contain her eight-year-old daughter and stop her from running around in case she attracted men. A complete absurdity indeed but my mother had to obey instead of facing their wrath. They fed on fear, intimidation and being the supposed ‘guardians’ of Islam.

However, Saudi Arabia is a land of blatant hypocrisy and double standards. This becomes crystal clear when you see how the Saudi authorities mete out capital punishment at the drop of a hat and often without solid evidence. Two very disturbing reports have emerged this week of how Saudi Arabia has maintained their status of being “guardians of Islam”. A Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, which are carried out in a piecemeal fashion of 50 lashes every Friday. His crime? Being a blogger and running a secular website aptly labelled Free Saudi Liberals.

The second story, and this is far more disturbing, is of a Burmese-origin lady, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, who was dragged in the streets of the holy city of Makkah and brazenly beheaded for allegedly sexually assaulting and murdering her step-daughter. A charge the lady vehemently denied right up until her demise, with her screaming “I did not kill, I did not kill” and three police officers holding her down while the punishment was carried out in an extremely sadistic manner. According to The Independent, a video showing how the execution took place has now been removed by YouTube as part of its policy on “shocking and disgusting content”. No evidence of her involvement in the death has ever been provided.

Even if the said crime was proven, was this ghastly method of execution not worse than the death penalty itself? Why was the execution made public in this manner? Why was it performed in a city that is held to be the most sacred city for Muslims around the world? Why was it so important for the Saudi officials to exhibit their power and authority in this manner? This execution has set a rather significant symbolic precedent and it is no wonder that the world at large refutes the claim that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. With custodians like these, Islam does not need enemies.

Let’s not forget of the hundreds of Pakistanis who are labelled as drug mules by the Saudi authorities and beheaded on a regular basis. Who is to know of their innocence or guilt without any questioning or appeal?

I do not wish to go into the nuances and detail of Sharia Law as I am not qualified to comment, however, I am aware that in Sharia Law the person charged with an offence must be given the chance to defend themselves. If they do admit their guilt, they are offered the chance to give blood-money to the aggrieved party, failing which, capital punishment is carried out. Saudi lawmakers offer little assistance when outsiders question the tactics and decision making that is used to carry out such heinous punishments. Also, a country which is so keen to follow Islam verbatim fails to explain why the ruling party is a monarchy, a form of government which is not allowed in Islam. Herein starts the hypocrisy.

Saudi Arabia is a strange dichotomy within the Middle East. Being the largest provider of oil in the world and also being custodians of the two most holy sites to Muslims worldwide, it has to balance the competing interests of the civilised world and yet ensure that the local population remains repressed and highly regulated through the use of a stringent interpretation of Islam. Any person who dare voice any opposition is swiftly rebutted, imprisoned, lashed or beheaded on the basis of “disturbing the peace of Islam”. The highly ironic thing is that Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of oil to the United States, the latter country regularly carries out drone strikes in other Muslim countries and is a staunch supporter of Israel, a country which Saudi Arabia refuses to recognise. While Raif’s flogging may be used to serve as a way to silence any home-grown dissension, it also goes to show that this blatant hypocrisy is something the local population is no longer willing to ignore.

Saudi Arabia cannot exist in a vacuum anymore. The global dynamics have changed so drastically and swiftly that such disgusting and abhorrent executions must stop. However, what can be expected from a country’s religious authorities which just last week decided that making snowmen is “haram” in Islam? The good news is that international pressure brought about media attention has resulted in Raif’s weekly floggings being stopped on “medical grounds”. He was the lucky one but unfortunately for individuals like Laila, very little help will be available. What Saudi must remember is that the wheels are turning, slowly but surely.

Faiza Iqbal

Faiza Iqbal

A law graduate from King's College, London Nottingham Law School. Having worked at Mandviwalla & Zafar as an Associate, she now writes freelance articles and is trying to qualify as a barrister in Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nadeem

    In the 1960’s the mutawas said TV is haram. A thrashing by future King Faisal cured the problem. In 2002, they said cell phones with cameras are haram. A few brand new GMC pickups magically shut their mouths. Then, all kinds of insurance was haram too. Today every insurance sells in KSA and the mutawas say nothing. And of course their biggest hypocricy is not to know what everyone in the world knows: that the Saud family is the most corrupt ruling mafia on the planet. In other words, they are in collusion.Recommend

  • Syed Mujtaba Haider Ngd

    now you will be given a name called “Desi lib-rel” “lib-rel” , “yahoodi agent” “kafir ” and soo many names that you can’t even imagine by these so-called custodian of islam. Just because you question their authority they interpret this questioning as a blasphemy and after some time a molvi will make a fatwa of your execution .They interpret Islam in their own way, in a way which gives them benefit and authority as well…
    But the matter of fact is what we people do, some people will do the same as mentioned above, some people will condemn this act by writing blogs , talking against about this act (like you) , , some people will show aggression against these so-called custodians (like me) ….
    But nobody is giving any kind of solution of it ??
    if you could propose a solution so that all people will condemn this hypocrisy of these people ..?? please do it!!!Recommend

  • Maxtor Max

    savages act no mercy god will allow that. but this berserkers think they do the work for Allah, they want to protect Allah. Allah almighty don’t need your help , don’t need your favors his just wish all tthing gone. their mind are twisted cannot reason with these lunatic.Recommend

  • monarch hater

    A very well written, to the point and factual article. Keep writingRecommend

  • Pradipta

    it is high time for all right thinking Muslims to raise their voice against this Draconian Sharia Law.Recommend

  • wiserneighbour

    You should keep the masses in constant fear so that they will have grip over aggressive bedouin nomadic tribes.They paint it with religious colours so that mutawwas are endorsing authority.Nobody dares to question them.If you question,you are behind bars or beheaded.This is the Saud Family tactic to retain power.But if you witness the so called princes and Princess atrocities,you should behead them first.Recommend

  • waheed

    The “royal family” is a bunch of criminals and Saudi Arabian ruling family has implemented rules and laws which have nothing to do with Islam. Raif Badawi should be freed immediately and fake royals should apologize. A day is near when this rule of cruelty will end and the citizens of Arabia will be free from Saudi tribeRecommend

  • Parvez

    Is the blatant hypocrisy only limited to the KSA ?……… should it not also extend to the countries that turn a blind-eye to all that you describe simply because it suits them economically, politically or personally.Recommend

  • Zubair Khan

    Salute to your courage to speak the truth as well to ET who carried the thoughts. In 2014 I happened to perfrom Hajj and the way I observed the Saudi attitude it was horrifyinjg. To me your effort will also get a deaf hearing and nothing is likely to change in near future.Recommend

  • Warda

    Just btw, you need to get your facts straight. She was convicted, the punishment wasn’t carried out on a mere accusation.Recommend

  • fze

    …and the most disturbing part is that Pakistanis are in awe of them and want to follow them not only in dress but in other ways also without ever giving a thought that our culture of tolerance & accommodation makes us more human and better Muslim.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Saudi is not the largest provider of oil to united states. USA hardly buys any oil from middle east. Most of it comes from Canada and mexico.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    It’s a horrible place. I had the misfortune of growing up there. The Saudis look at Asians as little better than dogs.

    It is possible she was guilty, but the pattern is that sexually deviant employers commit these crimes and then blame their help.

    Possible her step daughter was raped and murdered by someone who had her pinned. Sexual crimes aren’t often committed by women.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Why would she rape her own daughter? It is very rare for a woman to do that. What’s more, why would she do it in Saudi Arabia? Recommend

  • wb

    Well said.Recommend

  • beeping stick

    The USA is the world’s largest producer of oil and has a net export. You need to fact check your information or loose credability.Recommend

  • Milind A

    The main problem, as I see, is that Saudi Arabia gets this aura of greatness or leader of Islam, just because of the fact that it is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites.
    Subconsciously, every Muslim accords greatness to KSA, due to the above reason.
    Whereas in reality any Muslim country can take up custodianship of these sites and do a better job than KSA.Recommend

  • Milind A

    The main problem, as I see, is that Saudi Arabia gets this aura of greatness or leader of Islam, just because of the fact that it is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites.
    Subconsciously, every Muslim accords greatness to KSA, due to the above reason.
    Whereas in reality any Muslim country can take up custodianship of these sites and do a better job than KSA.Recommend

  • Samir Khan

    She was a murderer and met her fate ! She wasn’t ‘dragged’ into the ‘streets’ I wish you could post the video so readers can see how falsely you described the video !

    Making videos of Public Executions is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, The Saudi government didn’t publish it, instead some one in the public made the video.Recommend

  • Hakim Hazik

    Beheadings can’t be stopped on medical grounds. Medical science is quite clear.Recommend

  • Salma

    Well written. You have exposed that hypocritical kingdom very well. They respect neither knowledge nor wisdom. That kingdom contributes to neither education nor science not astronomy nor medicine. Zilch. It knows how to radicalize the youth and destroy whole societies. Ignorant rich guys with loads of money and very bad intent.Recommend

  • zaheer

    if that had happened in Pakistan our media would have gone crazy. Where is UN? Saudis never beheaded people from strong countries US, UK because they are rafiq and we are the one called miskeensRecommend

  • Aiman M.

    Disgusting. sexist as well. What about that mulla who sexually assaulted and killed her own 5 year old daughter? He was never punished.Recommend

  • talha saleem

    My mother told me about the racial discrimination she has to face during her recent trip to saudi arabia for umrah. she said that all Arabic women are allowed to bring any eatable they want into to Kahana Kaba’s premises but its not allowed to any no arabic. All non arabic are stopped at gates if they are carrying any such eatable. Even inside haram on weekends arabic children are running around, chasing football. Arabic men put Qoran under their head as they lay in mosque premises for rest, they use holy book as a pillow, isnt that come under blasphemy. Hypocrites.Recommend

  • Ash

    Not yet my friend. USA will become the top oil producer in 2020. For now it is 1. Russia 2. Saudi Arabia 3. USA.

  • Ash

    Not yet my friend. USA will become the top oil producer in 2020. For now it is 1. Russia 2. Saudi Arabia 3. USA.

  • Noman Ansari

    So apparently her crime was that she sodomized her poor daughter with a broom stick until the baby died. What evidence did they have of this? Isn’t it more likely the poor girl was raped and died because she was too young to handle intercourse, and then the blame placed on this woman? Just disgusted.Recommend

  • Munir Mustafa

    Saudi Arabia spends $48 Billion a year propagating Wahhabism. As long we let them fund mosques we will feel beholden to them. Look no further than Nawaz Sharif who flies off to Saudi Arabia when ever King Abdullah has mild constipation.Recommend

  • hammurabi

    There are certain comments justifying Saudi’s acts.Has be-headings resulted in reduction of crimes?Is beheading without dragging in streets justified?Recommend

  • sharabi

    Solution(For Me it Works)

    1. I belive in one lord, Buddha(PBUH), Moses(PBUH), Ram(PBUH), Jesus(PBUH) as messengers & Testify Mohammad sahab(PBUH) as a final messenger.
    2. Study religion by your own wisdom.
    3. Keep Religion between you & your Lord.
    4. Dont mix your Cultural things with religious one (Me a Hindu by Culture)

    For me it works & i don’t care if someone labels me as a Yahoodi agent in India as well.Recommend

  • Noobsaibot

    Hope saudi oil runs out. Recommend

  • Omarfarooq

    the way they behave to non Arabian or may be Arabian is quiet disgusting and the worth mentioning is that the law being presented their is not real Shariah Law. So, don’t call it a “Draconian” Shariah Law.Recommend

  • Omarfarooq

    wisdom never expected to work in religion, it’s our faith that’s really work..Recommend

  • hammurabi

    What about the teachings of Quran which repeatedly advice using wisdom?Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    wow good bashing of KSARecommend

  • shehryar

    God bless uRecommend

  • Hameedullah

    Making videos of the executions is prohibited but it is still done in full view of the public! This is what hypocrisy is. I am surprised that you are concerned about the video being published by someone and not Saudi instead of the actual execution.Recommend

  • Critical

    I heard that he was released as he paid blood money to the relative of the deceased,who in this case,was the mother of girl and his own wife and they accepted it….

    So,according to shariah law,he has done his punishment…Recommend

  • Critical

    Dear Pakistanis

    This is Ameera al-Taweel,the royal princess of Saudi Arabia..Can someone tell me why she has never been punished for not wearing a burkha,exposing her hands and legs and not covering her hair…

    Can any woman in Saudi Arabia exercise even half the freedom she enjoys???

    How come no Mullah ever put a fatwah on her????

    Wake Up!!!Recommend

  • thinkaboutit

    Please share your special knowledge that makes our the only one aware of the evidence proving she was guilty of murder and so worthy of being humiliatingly dragged thoigh the streets and publicly executed without having a trial or chance to defend herself.Recommend

  • Syed Mujtaba Haider Ngd

    Brother that is the most difficult work …. “to Mind your own bussiness”Recommend

  • Syed Mujtaba Haider Ngd

    so do you think the explanation u gave above is the justification of this act ??????
    if yes then
    Where is Humanity??!!!Recommend

  • Freeman

    She speaks with courage and rationality as she lives in Canada. I am glad she is studying Western law, having seen sharia law in operation (no stringent rules of evidence, no application of modern methods, and no due process). Will she return to Pakistan to practice or take the easy way out? In any case, thanks very much Faiza Iqbal for describing daily life in the mighty Saudi land, the land of Ibn Saud and Al Wahab. As someone who has no desire to visit that country, I am learning a lot from personal experiences of Pakistanis who’ve lived there.Recommend

  • Freeman

    Omar, as a non-Muslim (and non-Hindu/Indian) resident of a democracy, I am getting quite confused by all the talk of what is and what is not “real” Islam or Shariah. Where can I find the real truth? Or is it akin to the search for the mythic Golden Fleece which requires an epic quest for which we have no time or motivation. In our hurried world, perception is reality and what we (non-Muslims) are perceiving (Paris, ISIS, Ummah, 9/11) does not look very good. If Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam and its founder, is not the “true” face of Islam, Sharia, and Muslims, who is?Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Oh, so you have a direct line . . . ?Recommend

  • vinsin

    What your reply has to do with my statement? Discussion was on provider/importer not producer.Recommend

  • Zubair Khan

    Some times visit to get in depth knowledge of real teachings of Islam.Recommend

  • Hozur

    No wonder the ISISt takes its cue from Saudi style of excutions and enjoys doing so.After all they are following in the footseps of patrons of islam.If only Saudi ban beheding as a form of excution maybe we could get to see a more humane of delaing with deviants.Recommend

  • Omarfarooq

    You will found all real truths if u recite Holy quran…Recommend

  • LS

    “Where is Humanity??!!!”

    Its on deathbed in that region. The reason isn’t what you think it is, its dying because sane people aren’t raising their voice in that region because everyone is “Afraid”.Recommend

  • LS

    Every one has a “wrong number”…Recommend

  • dard3disco

    never mind the princess…who is that girl behind her ? how come she got a free ticket too ?Recommend

  • N

    This is the most likely scenario. Laila Byint was first probably subjected to the torture of seeing her beloved daughter murdered by her Arab pedophile slave-owner. Then, while torn apart by the grief from such an event, she was charged with her murder and beheaded in the streets. I am an American criminal prosecutor, and the odds of a female sexually assaulting her daughter, especially in the manner the government claims here (using a broom handle etc), is extremely, extremely unlikely. Recommend

  • khawar

    Mind your words Noman. Saudi Arabia can never be horrible place. You can argue with people there though .Recommend

  • Alexis Maestre Saborit

    No More Saudi Monarchy,Stop the Saudi KingRecommend

  • Alexis Maestre Saborit

    United States of America is the Support of the Saudi King Assassin.Recommend

  • Alexis Maestre Saborit

    No More Monarchy in Saudi Arabia,!No More Repression!Recommend