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November 21, 2007

MAS Freedom Condemns Saudi Miscarriage of Justice in Gang Rape Sentencing

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Muslim Community Called Upon to Stand in Solidarity Against Human Rights Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Nov. 20, 2007 – MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), in response to what is clearly a gross and cruel miscarriage of true justice, expressed both outrage and intense protest to the government of Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of a judicial decree to punish a 19-year old female victim of gang rape, known only as 'Qatif Girl', with 200 lashes and 6-months imprisonment.

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 attorney was subsequently disbarred by a Saudi court and prohibited from further representing his client as a result of protests lodged regarding the lightness of the court's prior decision on the sentences of the convicted rapists.

Al-Lahem was scheduled to meet with an administrative judge on Monday to seek reinstatement to the bar and permission to continue representing his client. It is reported that Saudi officials have not responded to media requests for comments on the case.

Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of MAS Freedom, issued the following statement regarding this incident:

"MAS Freedom views the sentencing in this case as an unspeakably cruel and brutal miscarriage justice, and a clear violation of the compassion and mercy taught by the religion of Islam. Not only has this woman endured the horror of gang rape, but she is now being subject to an equally terrible infliction of pain and harm by the legal system of Saudi Arabia.

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."

The victim's husband (and 'legal guardian') is scheduled to receive a copy of the verdict this coming Saturday from the Qatif General Court, after which the defendant will have 30-days to file an appeal with the Court of Cassation.

Saudi Arabia: Rape Victim Punished for Speaking Out
Rape Victim's Lawyer Refuses to Give In
A Saudi Hero: Abdul Rahman al-Lahem
Petition for Reform of Legal Guardianship of Women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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
MASF on the Web
Contact MASF by Email

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