If calling the method for determining the beginning of Ramadan and Eid “primitive” gets 275 lashes, how many would you get for questioning Sharia provisions on jihad and dhimmitude? “Ministry Intervenes as Writer Sentenced to 275 Lashes,” from the Arab News, with thanks to JJP Mackie:
RIYADH, 21 March 2005 – The case of a Saudi writer who was sentenced by a Shariah court in Riyadh to 275 lashes and four months imprisonment after being accused of being “corrupt” by members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has returned to the Ministry of Culture and Information yesterday after the intervention of the ministry, Arab News has learned.
The case is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Ali Al-Mizeini, an Arabic language professor at King Saud University, was charged by the commission with allegedly questioning the religious institution’s abilities and knowledge in an article written by him in Al-Watan newspaper. The commission was represented in court by another professor at the university, Abdullah Al-Barak from the Islamic Culture Department.
The accusers demanded that Dr. Al-Mizeini be tried according to Shariah for his writings. Dr. Al-Mizeini was later summoned to a court hearing….
The regulation issued by the minister of justice states that “whatever offends Shariah or Islamic ethics or contradicts anything in the Qur’an or Sunnah (the Prophet’s sayings) or is an accusation of a person toward another which demands a religious punishment of lashes or imprisonment according to the nature of the crime is a matter that concerns public courts.”
The regulation continues: “Public courts or primary courts which are given cases that deal with offenses concerning moral issues or attacks on Shariah that demand religious punishment should not transfer it to other concerned lawful bodies to look into it.”
Judge Suleiman Al-Fantooh of the Shariah court sentenced him to a four-month jail term and 275 lashes….
Al-Mizeini’s article angered many Islamists when he said that the method used by the Supreme Judiciary Council in determining the beginning of Ramadan and Eid was “primitive” that still relied on the naked eye’s vision of the moon at a time where the crescent can be determined by telescopes as well by Saudi astronomers who are experts in the field.
Meanwhile, another Saudi writer is being tried by a religious court in the Kingdom for criticizing the commission in another Saudi daily, Al-Jazirah.
Abdullah Al-Bikheit, the writer, published many articles in the daily criticizing the approach of the people who work for the commission. Arab News contacted the writer who revealed his story. “In the beginning, I got a call from the police department to appear in the station to deal with a case filed by a person I did not know,” he said….
“I later found out that 80 percent of those who filed the case were members of the commission who were angered by my writings in the daily,” he said….
Al-Bikheit said that he criticized the commission in the Saudi daily as “any other government body that has its shortcomings.” He said that he replied to the negative feedback to his articles in the letters to the editor column of the paper which did not “please the commission’s members”. He intends to publish a book with all the 17 articles he has published in Al-Jazirah.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that book to come out.