When I started this blog I started with the intention of explaining what went on in the Middle East, without any emotion. The thought was, if I explained clearly and consisely about customs then maybe one person might understand a little more about this area.
Today, I'm sad. Actually I don't have the words to explain how I feel about this recent news. Even after 23 years of living here, I'm totally and utterly speachless. No, it's beyond being speach-less, I'm shocked and stunned this witch hunting still exists
So, I've just changed my intended blog and am flagging up something all the locals are talking about, in absolute disbelief. And I'm talking about Sunni and Shiite Gulf Arabs acting with disbelief, not western expats.
As I said, today I'm very saddened by this, but here's the news. I think it needs to be told:
ANI Tuesday 10th March, 2009
Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Mar 10 : A 75-year-old widow has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months imprisonment in Saudi Arabia for meeting two young men, who were strangers to her and were reportedly bringing her bread.
Khamisa Sawadi, a Syrian-born woman who was married to a Saudi, was convicted and sentenced last week for meeting men who were not her immediate relatives.
The two 24 year old men, Sawadi's late husband's nephew Fahd al-Anzi and and his friend and business partner Hadiyan bin Zein were also found guilty and sentenced to similar punishments.
According to The Telegraph, the sentence has sparked off new criticism of Saudi Arabia's ultraconservative religious policies, which prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling.
The elderly woman met the two men last April after she asked them to bring her five loaves of bread at her home in Al-Chamil, the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported.
The court said it based its March 3 ruling on "citizen information" and testimony from Anzi's father, who accused Sawadi of corruption.
"Because she said she doesn't have a husband and because she is not a Saudi, conviction of the defendants of illegal mingling has been confirmed," the court verdict read.
Sawadi commonly relied on her neighbors for help after her husband died, said Saudi journalist Bandar al-Ammar.
Abdel Rahman al-Lahem, Sawadi's lawyer, told The Associated Press on Monday that he plans to appeal the verdict, which also demands that she be deported after serving her prison term.