Inside the Middle East - Blog
December 17, 2007
'Girl Of Qatif' Pardoned
The female rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison for being alone with a man at the time of her attack has been pardoned by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.

Saudi Journalist Ebithal Mubarak told CNN from Jeddah: "This is a great victory, not only for the girl but for all women of the country, for also the women who are subject to sexual abuse, for them to speak out. As we all know it's very hard for a woman who's been raped or sexually attacked in Saudi Arabia to speak, to go in public and speak about her ordeal. So this will send a strong message for the sexually abused women and also to the justice and the conservative wing in Saudi Arabia."

Press reports said the pardon did not indicate that the King considered the gang-rape victim's sentence "wrong".

Check out's story here.

What do you think of today's royal pardon? Email us at or add a comment below.
The pardon should not have even been necessary, in my opinion. I don't want to come across as someone who is hateful or prejudicial, but this case ilustrates one of the many problems with a culture that tries to combine the medieval with the modern. Most modern civilized nations would find it reprehensible to persecute the victim of gang rape.

In order to be a part of a global community, it is necessary to agree in general with that global community's sense of justice. I'm glad that the "pardon" is in effect, but it's a sad, backwards society that thinks it's OK to do such things: death threats and punishment for people who are themselves the victims of violence?
It's good to hear that she was pardoned. But, it was just because of the media and international attention that this case had.

It's impossible not imagine that other women may have suffered the same kind of "atrocities" and just because they weren't luck enough to atract this attention the same didn't happen to them.

And also, unfortunately, this is a way that the Saudi Justice found to put an end to this case and implement no real changes into its system. A shame! Religion can play a very important role in society but women can not be treated as second category human beings just because it's written in somewhere - and not making any judgments or comparison between West and East here.
What a country !!!!
Thank you CNN for bringing this case for the media.We will all hope there will be a change in culture of treating human beeings, and we expect the modern Saudies to convince their predessors to accept the modern way of living.

I am so happy I was born in the Caribbean, born a poor female but free to be what I wanted to be. I would probably kill myself if I lived in a place that treated women this way. Do they even realize how ridiculous it sounds to the majority of the free world, pardoning the rape victim? The operative word here being VICTIM:"One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition: victims of war." American Heritage dictionary.
How on earth do they figure she needs to be pardoned for an injustice that was perpetrated against her? Is it still the dark ages there or what?
It is about time that certain individuals in the Middle East come to the slow realization that tradition and custom are not always a good thing, as they prevent a culture from growing and evolving. Middle Eastern culture is old and steeped in pre-industrial tradition and customs, which make it hard for people in those countries to evolve, as well as to relate to individuals in other, more advanced, parts of the world.
MAS Freedom Welcomes Saudi King's Pardon of Qatif Girl But Reiterates the Need for Change

Fate of Attorney's License to Practice Law Remains Unknown

By Aishah Schwartz

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Dec. 17, 2007 – MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), welcomes the announcement out of Saudi Arabia that King Abdallah has pardoned a 19-year old female victim of gang rape, known only as 'Qatif Girl', sentenced to 200 lashes and 6-months imprisonment.

MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray, who previously proclaimed the sentencing as a "gross and cruel miscarriage of true justice", today added, "While the pardon in the 'Qatif Girl' case is, indeed, good news, particularly on this, the first day of Hajj, the fact remains that a pardon does not overturn the verdict - which means that Judges within the Kingdom remain undeterred from making the same ruling in similar cases.

"The fact that this story received international media attention does not mean that the next victim will be so lucky. Clearly, from a human rights standpoint, we must continue to press for real change - judicial change - before the Qatif Girl case becomes cold. Unless real change is seen as a result of this pardon, it is nothing more than eye-candy for the media.

"Equally important, and not to be forgotten, is the fact that human rights activist and attorney for the rape victim, Abdul-Rahman Al-Lahem, had his license to practice law suspended in defending his client - yet another gross miscarriage of justice that remains to be rectified," Bray concluded.

MAS Freedom stands by its original statement:

We call upon the Saudi government to overturn this cruel sentence, and to immediately reinstate her attorney to the practice of law so that he can give her the legal representation that she is due.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught in his Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) that 'Paradise lies at the feet of our mothers'. How, then, can Muslims tolerate the violent abuse of women in the eyes of any legal system?

American Muslims must not be silent in the face of such blatant violations of decency and fundamental human rights. We call upon our entire community, and American Muslim organizations nationwide to condemn this terrible miscarriage of justice.

MAS Freedom believes that the true value and beauty of Islam can only be manifested when women are afforded the respect, and human rights given to all human beings by our Creator. We reject the distorted, and un-Islamic idea, that regards the systematic oppression, and even physical violation of women as tolerable."

According to Arab News, CNN and other international media sources, the victim had been gang raped by seven Saudi men, when she attempted to retrieve unspecified photographs from allegedly being used in a blackmail scheme.

However, when the woman made a public protest in response to what she and her attorney, Abdul-Rahman Al-Lahem, considered the inappropriately lenient prison sentences given to her attackers-ranging from ten months to five years-she herself received a court sentence of six months in prison, and 200 lashes.

The victim's husband (and 'legal guardian') has remained steadfastly supportive of his wife.

MAS Freedom (MASF) is a civic and human rights advocacy entity and sister organization of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the largest Muslim, grassroots, charitable, religious, social, cultural, civic and educational organization in America – with 55 chapters in 35 states. Learn more here.

MAS Freedom
1325 G Street NW, Suite 500
Washington DC 20005
Phone: (202) 552-7414
Toll Free: 1-(888)-627-8471
Fax: (703) 998-6526
In my personal opnion I think the king granted the pardon just to calm the international critisism. The thing is that cases like this should be brought to the light more often, be consistant to vanish and prevent this kind of treatment to women who suffer the same atrocities all around the world.
Thanx God, finally justice prevail.

But wait, does it sound nice to say that RAPE VICTIM IS BEING PARDON? Never in civilized world....

It isn't fine if they have to look back the judiciary system?
In modern civilization: a rape victim gets counseling service, medical attention, comfort and support from family and friends and society...

And in this case, the rape victim has to be thankful that she's pardon (in the king's mercy) ?!!
Thanks to CNN and people like Anderson Cooper, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity - for keeping the pressure on national/international issues like the "Middle Eastern Rape Case". If the world didn't have this "Cable Power" to bring-to-light and "keeping the honest" these absurd and heinous acts would be even further out of control.
saudi system is different than the rest of the world. women abuses are 24|7. saudi government is like a idle or let me put this way useless. attorney can not do their job inside saudi arabia. there is no law to protect when you are in saudi arabia, the whole world knows that and of course every human beings knows that,becouse unfairness for women,injustice,inequality, unconstitutional, undomecratic, and finally lawless country!
for every one that know about this case.
i say :
first please don not understand islam in wrong way before you know about it very well.there is no dark ages or any ideas like that.because islam is very civilized
and when islam came it made muslim's womens better womens over the>
islam prevent any women from making any relationships with any person foriegner of her because that make this foreigner person want to make sexual relationship with her in any time espically when they become alone in a place.
so please think once slowly that islam protect womens life .
and when any women obay the islam orders that make allah happy of her .and that make she is a winner in the dy of judgment.that is simply what islam says and calling for.
islam call people to be good people in thier lif.
I can't understand how a victim of rape (woman or men) can be subject of pardon?!? She is the victim!!! Am i wrong?
Giving her pardon is like condemning her twice... isn't it?
How can we let this happen in front of our eyes... Almost in 2008! I can't even express my rebellion, my disgusting about this situation...
I agree that probably the Saudi king only gave her the pardon because of the international pressions... fortunately for this poor woman and unfortunately because i think this is not a real change in the way of thinking just a silencer of the public opinion.
Religion is supposed to be all about love, respect, justice... but even the war is made in the name of the christ! Sacred War?!? Holy war?!? BULLSHIT!!!!!
Justice was not served. The judiciary view this as an act of mercy, not justice. Had the king not been pressured internationally, I highly doubt she would have been pardoned.
This girl was lucky to have been put in jail. Once she is free her family will kill her because she has dishonored them. It is called honor killing and countries in the middle east have been doing it for years. The girl knows the laws and she knew the consequences of her actions when she was alone with the male. I am not saying that I agree with the situation but this is their culture, this is their country let them run it the way they choose to. America and it's citizens should not expect everyone to follow what they think is "right"
well, i think that the Saudi justice system is unique..and may i add, should not be followed.

If a foreigner gets ran over by a Saudi-driven car and was killed, the Saudi will be absolved of any crime. Why? Because the logic is that if that foreigner stayed home in his home country and did not go to Saudi Arabia, he will not be run over by a car!

The whole episode is a chain of shameful events for the Saudis. But, what came out of all these? A rape victim did not have to receive 200 lashes!!! That's it!!!

What kind of culture is it when a girl gets punished for getting raped?

What kind of culture is it when the rapists get just a few months jail term for such a crime?

What kind of culture is it when the justice system is so backward?

I am disgusted and disappointed. The only bright spot is that the girl's husband has stood by her side all along. God bless him ...

Narayan, Hyderabad
Its all very nice for the Girl of Qatif but the lawyer still lives under death threats and the Islamic legal code (shariat) still allows judges to go on giving judgments against the hapless victims. We may not have a brave lawyer next time.
Other countries also put the onus of proof on the victim and with out the requisite 4 witness the woman is classified as an adultress and jailed. This could be why rape is never reported.
Bless you CNN and the rest of the free press. Dont rest so that no woman has to live under the threat of punishment and so stay silent
I really don't know what to say.
dictatorship is very bad, but religious dictatorship is the worst of all.
"Unbelievable", "dont' know what to say" blah blah blah
Stop crying people! In the Western countries rape of a woman occurs every 7 seconds! Child pornography is all over the place! Let's talk about that! First sort out your countries and then critisize others.

As for the Saudi woman case, this woman should not have been alone with a man at the first place! If these people did not violate the rules of Islam and civil law of Saudi Arabia they wouldn't be in such situation.

Fianlly, if you live in Saudi you should follow the civil law of Saudi, if you live in USA you should follow the civil law of USA. It doesn't make sense to live in Saudi and follow American rules or vice versa.
As far as I understand she was not punished for being a rape victim, but for having sex with her lover outside the marriage.
Every country has different laws and if a sexual relationship outside marriage is prohibited than you'll be punished if caught.
The persons who did rape her are serving prison sentences.
Pardon is good as she has already suffered a lot.
the middle east is so different, and i'm not here to defend or defeat the way they run their country, but i am here to say that before you go, there is no base to judge. there's attrosities happening in every country, and the fact that they are being addressed should be applauded. it means there's change. and it also shows the world the injustice that is truly happening. it's happening all around guys... and it's time for us to stop judging and putting in our 2 cents in issues that we don't really know about, and really get down to the meat of the problem... address what is happening and be able to stand up for truth and justice because if anyone really did care we wouldn't try to conform people we would feel with them.
I am not sure how many people really understand the Middle East culture, especially the one prevailing in Saudi Arabia. First of all it took guts for her husband to stand by his wife and support her during this crisis... That is simply admirable! Most other people in KSA may have just dumped her and left her to her fate( stoning to death/lashes or both), and simply married again...
Secondly, if the "victim" was being punished for her crime of being seen with a non-family member in an isolated place, that too in a compromising situation, it was the law of the land that that she be punished. One needs to understand this! Every country has its own set of laws. The fact that the King has pardoned her is an extraordinary ruling for KSA. One should appreciate it, whether it was under International pressure or due to media hype. This should in no way lessen the punishment that should be meted out to the rapists for committing this dastardly crime..
What needs to be seen is how women in Saudi Arabia will react and whether the ruling will effect any change in treatment meted out to women in a society that is totally male dominated.
What will happen to the "victim"? Only time will tell....
I have to say that the Saudi justice system has many flaws especailly in rape cases. Usually rapists get away with light punishment. The problem is not in the laws of Sharia but in the way these laws are implemented. The justic system is filled with corrupt judges.

By the way, stoning to death is just a joke!! I live in Saudi Arabia for 25 years and haven't heard of a single case in which the criminal is stoned to death.
I can't understand how people in Saudi Arabia could be so much out of the loop of what if right and wrong, especially regarding what women do and don't.
Seeing this case from an international-community perspective, it's a pity to find out that there are place in world still where women are treated as objects.
If this lady has been pardoned thanks to the media and international pressure, then we should continue having our eyes on what is going on in the world, and speak for what is just.
what a backward bunch of people.
Actually it is not problem just for Saudi Arabia ,this problem is for all Islamic country like as Iran.
But what should they are ?this superstitions is a part of their culture. I think it need time for changing this behavior.

from Iran
This is a blatant Disrespect to Islam and its law and another display of western powers to humiliate Islam and force it to backtrack a decision which was in accordance with Allah and his prophet.
It’s a real wonder seeing all these comments accusing Saudi Arabia of abusing women and human in general while these acts are vividly illustrated in USA (Guantanamo) Europe (Muslim women’s veil).
Another thing is believing in what the media says without questioning while what’s been told is merely 20% of the truth.
Last but not least, get real and think about your countries. Saudis are better off your comments.
I do feel that its a Bold move and and justified move by the King which helped it out. How many more stories would come to light of the oppressed sex. Its time the women come to their rescue even though following their traditions. The traditions followed should be fair and show no prejudice based on sex, class, any social evils. This is a new hope thanks to the King to initiate such a change
I think the woman part of this world, much secure than any other society. Her dignity and prosperity, covering herself for their husband not like others. And this is the way they want spend their life. I am really thanks to ALLAH i part of the world where brother, sister, mother, father, relatives and friends live together and having respected each other.

please tell me which country having most crimes.
horrible. but what can one say when the raped is pardonned in a society that worships the male child. It is sad
The USA has it's problems. It isn't perfect, no place is. But if a law that is supposed to be guided by God, Allah, Buddha, or any deity calls for someone to be punished for being a victim it is wrong. There is no such thing as man meteing out holy justice, there is no such thing as a "holy war". Mankind is fallible, a flawed creature trying to find his way in the dark with the light from an ember. That ember is his conscience.

The sad thing is that we don't all have the same version of conscience, so when we someone elses ember it scraes us, angers us that there is another light besides our own. We need to move beyond this cave man mentality that one of us is always right and the other is always wrong. Until then, we will continue destroying each other. And if you, any of you, think that your god wants you to kill that other flickering ember then that isn't a god worth existence.

your's Truly,
Michael Saumure
It is mind numbing to hear that in the 21st century we still see and hear of state sponsored lashings, beatings and stoning of adults both men and women all the name of social justice and under the umbrella of a holy decree. Where is the justice and holy sanctity in lashing a 19 year old girl 200 times? Where is the honor and civility of sending a young girl who was viciously raped to prison?

As a Middle Easterner, I am deeply relieved that King Abdulla stood a firm ground to challenge the religious establishment of the judiciary by standing up for women’s right. This will set a new precedence in the fight for human rights in the Middle East.

It’s a long struggle but it has begun.

I think the time has come for woman all over the world to stand up for themselves and be heard..this includes the Suadi Women who has to daily deal with being seen as second hand persons with no ability to think for themselves..times are changing and they need to move on with the rest of the world so this is uplifting...
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