Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Torture of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia raises several concerns (Tawfik Hamdid)

Again, Dr. Tawfik raises some pertinent concerns

The Torture of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia raises several concerns

By Tawfik Hamid
Last week an Islamic Sharia court in the Saudi city of Medina has sentenced a Saudi woman to three years in jail[i] for the severe physical abuse of her Indonesian maid. Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, 23, was admitted to hospital in November with broken bones and burns to her face and body. The Saudi woman for whom she found work as a maid was arrested after allegedly beating Ms Sumiati so severely she had broken bones and internal bleeding. She was accused of putting a hot iron to Ms Sumiati's head and stabbing and mutilating her with scissors.
The case received worldwide attention, and prompted the Indonesian president to demand justice for her "torture".
This "Sharia" punishment raises several concerns about the so called "justice of Sharia" Law as demonstrated two years ago when Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, a 22 year old Saudi , suffered a spinal injury which left him paralyzed when he was struck with a cleaver intentionally by another man. Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef, a Sharia judge of the northwestern Tabuk province contacted several hospitals in the area to see if they could perform a surgical procedure on the attacker which would paralyze him[ii],[iii]. The sentence was based on the Sharia concept of "An Eye for An Eye". This concept has roots in the Quranic verse {5:45 We ordained therein for them (the children of Israel): "Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." 

In the case of the Indonesian lady it is reasonable to ask ourselves why the Sharia judge did not use the same Sharia principle "An Eye of An Eye" that had been used in the other case. Can this be related to the fact that the victim was not a Saudi citizen? In other words, was the Sharia court going to limit the punishment to only 3 years in prison for the assailer assailant if the situation was the other way around and the Indonesian servant was the one who tortured the Saudi lady?
Furthermore, when we, on one hand, see that the punishment of the Saudi Lady was only 3 years in prison after torturing another human being to this extent and, on the other hand, realize that a Lebanese man charged with sorcery (or future telling) had been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia and was scheduled to be beheaded in March 2010[iv], we must question not only the "Sharia Law" but the whole justice system that permits this bizarre situation to exist.
I hope that the soft punishment that has been given to the Saudi lady for torturing her maid is not in any way based on or related to the Sharia rule that a free man is not to be killed for the killing of a slave[v].
Didi Wahyudi, from the Indonesian consulate in Saudi Arabia, told the BBC that this country would press for a harsher sentence. "We are going to file an objection to the judge's verdict because the sentence is too light compared to the maximum jail sentence of 15 years according to Saudi law, whereas Sumiati has suffered extraordinary consequences." In addition, the defendant's lawyer also said she would appeal against the sentence, reported Saudi Gazette.

The Saudi Sharia judges should at least seek justice between humans irrespective of their class or nationality as the Quran states clearly {4:58 God doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between humans, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For God is He Who heareth and seeth all things. In addition, these judges need to learn from the Hadith of prophet Mohamed that described the reason for destroying some ancient nations was that they used to avoid punishing the criminals if they were from higher class and on the contrary they used to give touch punishment for the criminals if they were from a weak family.
In brief, the Saudi scholars need to reevaluate the sentence in Ms.Mustapa's case and enforce true justice.  

[v] See: Fiqh: According to the Quran & Sunnah Compoled -by Muhammad Subhi bin Hasan Hallaq Vol:2 Darussalam Publications


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