Saudi Arabia is currently in the midst of a very incremental liberalization in social laws. But, for the time being, the nation is without question the most authoritative regime in the Middle East and one of the worst offenders of inalienable human rights in the world.
And part of the structure of oppression is that the royal family allows a gang of militant thugs – known by the shorthand “virtue” police – to run rough-shot over the Saudi people. The zealots adhere to the doctrine of Wahhabi which preaches, amongst its extremism, that non-related sexes should not be allowed to intermix and that women must remain subservient to men. This includes a mother needing permission from her son to leave the country. The royal family is exempt from this harsh rule.
That is the agreement between the House of Saud and the House of al-Sheikh (descendants of Mohammed Ibn Abdul-Wahhab) that the royal family will finance the rule of the Wahhabi zealots and they Wahhabi clerics will in turn offer “religious sanction” for the royal family’s power and leadership.
So while Saudi royals keep stockpiles of alcohol for their personal consumption, a lay Saudi would be severally punished for the same act.
The “virtue” police ran around the country aggressively monitoring the lives of Saudis and, if they error according to the “virtue” police, then they will be arrested and the victim of Medieval punishment.
And what is a “crime” is often stunning and the punishment the very definition of “cruel and unusual”. Consider the case of a 70-year old widow who was sentenced to months in jail and dozens of lashed all because she was in the company of an unrelated 18-year old boy when he entered her home with her nephew when they came to deliver this 70-year old widow bread. The mere act of a 18-year old boy and a 70-year old widow, even though clearly innocent and even though the boy was just delivering bread, was enough for both the 18-year old unrelated male and the widow to be punished by the fanatical Wahhabi police who see a sexual conspiracy in everything in their demented minds.
Sometimes these punishments are given in public so as to strike fear in the hearts of other Saudis who may be so nefarious as to deliver bread to a 70-year old widow living at home alone:
“A 90-year-old Saudi man will be lashed 100 times with the whip after he was convicted of smashing the windscreen of a judge’s car to retaliate against a previous verdict against him, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.”
H/T: Angry Arab.