February 7, 2013 by Nash Riggins
Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a ‘celebrity’ Saudi preacher accused of raping and torturing his five-year-old daughter to death, has been released from custody after agreeing to pay ‘blood money’ for his crimes. If nothing else, this should serve as yet another painful reminder that the UK’s commitments to human rights are forfeit so long as it continues to do business with a nation that considers such ‘punishments’ justifiable.
Fayhan al-Ghamdi admitted using a cane and cables to inflict the injuries after doubting his five-year-old daughter’s virginity, and has agreed to pay £31,000 to the girl’s mother in order to atone for the murder – although it’s only half the amount that would’ve been paid had she been a boy. According to campaign group Women to Drive, fathers in Saudi Arabia cannot be executed for murdering their children.
Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalists are quite gleeful about the episode of Fayhan al-Ghamdi, mocking that his light sentencing illustrates “the justice of Islam”. The bigotry of such assertions is outstanding to say the least – not least of all because the Prophet Mohammed specifically states within the Quran that killing one’s child is among the greatest wrongs a person could ever commit. The Prophet also bashed gender-based favouritism, as he himself is said to have had four daughters.
Subsequently, Fayhan al-Ghamdi’s appallingly light sentence cannot be pegged as a result of Saudi Arabia’s religion of choice – regardless of what America’s bigoted religious fanatics would have us believe. If anything, such a warped sense of justice goes directly against the teachings of Islam; after all, the majority of Muslim-dominated nations would not dream of allowing a convicted child killer to go free. Accordingly, additional pressure must be placed on the Saudi state to reform its archaic legislature that tramples on the rights of its citizens.
Yet for whatever reason, Westminster appears more than keen to overlook these questionable punishments. Although the UK says it ”remains deeply concerned” about the Saudi government’s human rights record, Saudi Arabia continues to be the UK’s single-largest trading partner in the Middle East – and as the two nations share over 150 major corporate ventures together, the chances are this relationship will only continue to strengthen. Indeed, UK visible and invisible exports into Saudi Arabia were valued at more than $9 billion in the last year alone.
That being said, the UK should no longer be allowed to sidestep human rights sanctions against Saudi Arabia just because the Kingdom fills our gas tanks and makes London’s bankers rich. The Saudi Arabian people truly are amazing, and subsequently deserve a prominent place on the world stage; however, the Saudi brand of justice must be completely overhauled. Sharia law or no, allowing a father to go unpunished for killing his child should in no way be considered compatible with Islam; therefore, a call from the British government for an end to these appalling human rights violations cannot be considered an attack on religion – rather, it’s an attack for religion. No matter what religious zealots choose to preach on daytime TV, there is not one monotheistic religion today that encourages individuals to murder their children. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise should be cast out of said religious group indefinitely – especially if he himself dresses in the clothes of a preacher.
Meanwhile, citizens of the UK need to wake up and realise that so long as their government continues to turn a blind eye towards the disgusting human rights violations being committed by its allies, all British commitments to human rights are null and void. Westminster should put its money where its mouth is and finally instigate some real pressure on Saudi Arabia to modernise its archaic brand of justice – before another 5-year-old girl can fall victim to such a senseless crime.