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SAUDI ARABIA: BURNT ALIVE FOR CHANGING RELIGION
(by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) – DUBAI, AUGUST 13
The sentence could not be appealed: guilty for converting to Christianity, a young Saudi woman was set alight by her father, who first had cut her tongue. Not an ordinary father, but a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Against Vice, a sort of police watching over the moral behaviour of the citizens of Saudi Arabia and the full compliance with the rules of the rigid Wahabi doctrine, by using whiplashes on the legs for too high heels and arresting men and women not linked by marriage or family bonds for meetings in restaurants.
To the injury of the conversion, the woman had added also the insult of the written word, by writing articles with Christian-religious content on blogs and regional websites.
The brutal news reported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s daily Gulf News reflects the reality of Saudi Arabia, a conservative and intransigent country, and throws ice-cold water on the image of an oil kingdom which says to be ready to open up partially to other religions, an image painted by the recent gestures of the king Abdallah Bin Abdelaziz.
After the historical meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in November, the first visit of a Saudi king to the Vatican, the Guardian of the two Holy Mosques promoted in July a conference on the dialogue among the three religions of the Book – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Although the event was seen also as a pragmatic political-religious move to allow an inter-religious alliance against Islamic terrorism, born from a deviated interpretation of Islam, which has hit hard also in Saudi Arabia, other steps had however already been taken in the direction of an actual and tangible opening between Christianity and Islam: the Apostolic Nuncio in Kuwait, Qatar Yemen and UAE, Mouged El-Ashem, in fact confirmed in the spring the existence of ongoing negotiations between the Holy See and Saudi authorities to authorise the construction of Catholic churches in the oil kingdom.
In the other five countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, instead, Christian and Catholic churches are already operating, the last of which was opened in Qatar just before Easter. However, beyond the pragmatism of the sheiks, there are still parts of the society not yet ready for compromises on religious values and beliefs, especially when they find spaces within the families.
The father of the burnt alive Saudi woman, as reported by sources close to the victim, is investigated for “honour killing” and not “murder”, a motif which if acknowledged, might lead to a sentence of up to three years in prison, because caused by the necessity to “wash the shame of dishonour” fallen on the entire family, for the unbecoming behaviour of the daughter.
Hvor barbarisk. Tre års fængsel – og den stakkels mand havde jo kun skåret sin datters tunge ud og brændt hende levende bagefter. En sag for Menneskerets-domstolen!