The More Things Change...
As far as I'm concerned, the term "Arab ally" has frequently been an oxymoron. After all, one would think that "ally" would imply some degree of shared values in addition to the issues of realpolitik. But probably nowhere is the chasm between our values and theirs wider than in the case of Saudi Arabia. And now another stomach-turning example of how different we are has come to light.
"Saudi Court: 750 Lashes For Praising Jews"
Teacher sentenced to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes for praising Jews; suspect will be flogged in public.
November 15, 2005
A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes for "mocking religion" after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, a Saudi newspaper reported Sunday.
Al-Madina newspaper said secondary school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi will be flogged in public after he was taken to court by his colleagues and students.
He was charged with promoting a "dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right, discussing the gospel and preventing students from leaving class to wash for prayer" the newspaper said. It gave no more details.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, strictly upholds the austere Wahabi school of Islam and bases its constitution on the Koran and the saying of Islam's prophet, Mohammed.
Public practice of any other religion is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
A U.S. State Department report criticised Saudi Arabia last week, saying religious freedoms "are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam."
The newspaper said al-Harbi will appeal against the verdict.
Now don't you just love the way Reuters (or "al-Reuters" as Patrick at Clarity & Resolve calls them) describes Wahabism as "austere?" I'm sorry, but any religion that would thrash a man to within an inch of his life for having the temerity to try to foster respect for all religions can hardly be described as merely "austere." Actually, primitive, barbaric and murderous are terms that come to mind. But as long as they have the oil, and we have the sycophantic State Department issuing lukewarm condemnations, while putting a happy face on the House of Saud, this dysfunctional relationship won't be ending any time soon.
Good luck, Mr. Harbi. I hope your appeal is successful.