Friday, February 6, 2009

and while you're at it, could you become a secular liberal democracy?

From the Futility Department comes today's call by Western nations for Saudi Arabia to stop using flogging and amputation as punishment. This in reaction to the first published human rights review of the Saudis from the Human Rights Council. From Reuters:

Western countries called on Saudi Arabia on Friday to halt floggings and amputations, allow religious freedom and abolish a system of male guardianship sharply limiting women's rights.

Britain, Canada, Switzerland and Israel challenged Riyadh on issues including its high number of executions. Saudi Arabia executes murderers, rapists and drug traffickers, usually by public beheading, and judges sometimes give the death sentence to armed robbers and those convicted of "sorcery" or desecrating the Koran.

The Saudis defended themselves at the Human Rights Council, according to the article, by saying that they were in strict compliance with Sharia, that they were cracking down on domestic violence, and that people can practice religions other than Islam so long as they do it in private and don't tell anybody. No, seriously, this was their defense.

Added the delegate of Saudi Arabia:

“We do not have a religious problem with women driving, but our polls shows 80 percent do not believe that women should drive cars, and we respect the wishes of people and respect gradual developments.”

In the interest of fairness, the Human Rights Council also took Canada to task for its use of tasers. Cuba, of course, was praised for its exemplary record on human rights.

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