by Aramie Louisville Vas
All right. The subject of this article absolutely turns my stomach. It is by far one of the more demeaning, brutal acts which humankind has inflicted on one another throughout the ages. It’s perverse. It is disgusting. It’s been widely condemned as absolutely barbaric. And this time the intended recipient is a 74 year old man in poor health. You have got to be kidding. But there it is.
If I can get outside my own mind-muddle-explosion on this completely abhorrent behavior, I will tell you the story of how this sentence was given. It’s simple, really. 74-year-old British man Karl Andree was jailed for 12 months last August but is still in custody awaiting FURTHER punishment for breaking Saudi’s strict no-alcohol laws; they want to beat him 350 times with heavy sticks.
His family says this will kill him.
Andree has worked for a quarter of a century for oil companies in the Kingdom. Andree’s son, Simon, says his father lives in regret of what happened and that he has already served his time. Karl Andree notes that his father is frail, has asthma, and has suffered cancer three different times. Saudi Arabia would say that Andree knew the rules, yet chose to break them, as evidenced by the homemade wine found by Saudi officials in Andree’s car. The British Foreign Office has on its website a warning about the severe consequences of possessing alcohol in Saudi Arabia, and yes, everyone seems to know that alcohol is totally forbidden.
Taking a step back, it seems curious that a man who spent 25 years in a country where alcohol is expressly forbidden would be so cavalier as to possess it in his vehicle. But I did a bit of research, and one of the very first websites I found described how yes, booze was illegal in Saudi Arabia but that “lots of Saudis” either make home brew or shell out big bucks for the real stuff, like Jack Daniels.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will intervene in the matter of this case. Saudi Arabia is a close Middle Eastern ally to Britain, and Cameron’s move for involvement highlights diplomatic tensions over human rights in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s judicial system is based on Sharia law, which expressly forbids alcohol consumption and lots of other things. Sharia law metes out harsh punishments for everything from stealing to adultery and denying the Quran to women who speak alone to any male not their husband or relative. Women who are raped? Not allowed to testify under Sharia law. They can’t even say it happened, because the big religion system protects men at all costs. The same men who are allowed, under Sharia law, to consummate marriages with 9 year old girls, and cut their clitoris’ off. Then eventually, it turns even on its men because they have to beat SOMEONE on a regular basis to prove their point, right? I’m sorry if this sounds xenophobic, but I have beef with anyone and any system using terror to control its people. It’s not okay for the modern U.S. to go to other places and massacre them for control, and it’s not okay for Saudi Arabia to use religion to terrorize those within its borders.
Saudi Arabia has so many crimes punishable by lashings and imprisonment, including rights we take for granted in the U.S. such as criticizing the government. And lashings and floggings for alcohol possession are not unheard of, not at all. In 1993 Gavin Sherrard-Smith was sentenced to 50 lashes for breaking an alcohol ban in Qatar, also a country governed by Sharia law. Other Saudi websites I found cited public lashings up to 500 in number for foreigners breaking the Saudi alcohol rules. Those sites seemed clear that if such sentences were given, there would be little the home government could do to intervene.
Saudi Arabia does not have help or treatment for alcoholics (obviously, I know) since drinking is forbidden. It is more likely that a Saudi alcoholic would be seen as a criminal than a medically sick person. I venture to say the Saudis might be as confused by Western declarations from the American Medical Association that alcoholism is a disease as we in the U.S. are by the idea that alcohol is evil, criminal behavior, though we in the West have had our share of historic teetotalers. At any rate, it doesn’t seem that Andree is being looked at as an alcoholic, an argument which would likely hold no sway in such a system.
It’s a system where writing this article could get me severely hurt, jailed, or both. That is fucking insane.