17 October 2014
Beheadings are a popular event in the Kingdom of the Sauds. According to one wit, they are the only form of public entertainment aside from football matches. Nor does the entertainment necessarily end with the decapitation. For certain crimes, the corpse is crucified, the head mounted above the body, where it will be left for public view for up to four days. The executions are generally clean but not always. For example, when Rizana Nafeek, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan maid accused of murdering her employer’s 4-month-old son (she claimed the baby choked on its milk bottle), swayed from side to side, the chopping took a very messy turn.
Lighter entertainment allows the public to witness the hacking off of other body parts—hands, legs—depending on the crime. According to one of the state executioners, Mohammed Saad al-Beshi, if it is a hand he cuts at a joint and if it is a leg he explains, "the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that."
Currently awaiting execution for "sedition" and "disobeying" the kingdom's rulers is the prominent Shia religious leader and anti-government protester Nimr al-Nimr. Most of the country's Shia minority live in the east which also happens to be home to most of the country's vast oil reserves. They have long alleged severe discrimination by the Wahhabi majority who dominate religious institutions, the courts and education. Nimr is paying the price of their dissent.
So while we rightly condemn the Islamic State for its atrocious beheadings, this barbaric, misogynous regime remains our bosom friend, the United States and Britain's favourite customer for arms sales and a country to whom we are trying to increase our own weapons traffic. Of course, the victims of the Islamic State were innocents but then, given the quality of Saudi justice, so might victims such as Rizana Nafeek and Nimr al-Nimr.
Oh, what a difference a barrel of oil makes.
Posted by Bill Longstaff at 12:16 am