The country’s Shariah-based legal system ensures fairness

Adam Taylor at the Washington Post reports that Saudi Arabia considers itself profoundly different from IS, and that it plans to persuade everyone of this by suing people who say otherwise.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have long been annoyed that everyone keeps suggesting they are anything like the Islamic State. Sure, they say, perhaps some of the laws on the books may look similar to the punishments in the extremist organization, but the Saudi kingdom is a sovereign state that abides by the rule of law and uses these punishments with discretion.

Yes, it’s a “sovereign state,” for what that’s worth – which in their case is pretty much nothing. So it’s a sovereign state, so what? It’s a sovereign state with bad laws, bad judges, bad courts, bad government, bad ideas, bad you name it. It’s one of the worst countries on the planet.

According to a report in pro-government newspaper Al Riyadh, the Saudi justice ministry is planning to sue a Twitter user who suggested that a death sentence recently handed out to a Palestinian artist for apostasy was “ISIS-like.”

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity,” a source in the justice ministry told the newspaper, according to a translation by Reuters. The ministry would not hesitate to sue “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom,” the source added.


Maybe they’re thinking of libel tourism. They’ve done that before:

When Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote “Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It,” she assumed she would be protected by the First Amendment. She was, in the United States. But a wealthy Saudi businessman she accused in the book of being a funder of terrorism, Khalid bin Mahfouz, sued in Britain, where the libel laws are heavily weighted against journalists, and won a sizable amount of money.

The lawsuit is a case of what legal experts are calling “libel tourism.” Ms. Ehrenfeld is an American, and “Funding Evil” was never published in Britain. But at least 23 copies of the book were sold online, opening the door for the lawsuit. When Ms. Ehrenfeld decided not to defend the suit in Britain, Mr. bin Mahfouz won a default judgment and is now free to sue to collect in the United States.

That was 2008; the UK’s libel law has been somewhat improved since then, and the US has passed laws preventing people like Mr bin Mahfouz from suing here.

So where do the Saudis think they’re going to do this suing?

…the comparison to the Islamic State appears to be a particular bone of contention for the Saudi kingdom. Speaking to NBC News earlier this year, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki justified the use of capital punishments such as beheadings in the kingdom by saying the country’s Shariah-based legal system ensures fairness. “ISIS has no legitimate way to decide to decide to kill people,” Al-Turki said, adding that “the difference is clear.”

No, it isn’t, really. Yes there’s a legal system; no it’s not a good legal system or one that ensures fairness. The way Saudi Arabia decides to kill people is not legitimate either. Should we list all the people it’s killed illegitimately? All those maids beheaded on trumped up charges after they resisted rape or failed to serve the coffee hot enough? All those bloggers who dared to talk about liberal reforms?

So I guess I’d better get busy insulting Saudi Arabia more.

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