Since so many people say you can’t criticize Islam based on the actions of a few “radicals,” then let’s talk about this, shall we? An activist Saudi blogger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine that equates to just over a quarter of a million U.S. dollars for the horrific and outrageous crime of – criticizing some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful clerics.
Raif Badawi, a husband and father of three, dared to set up a website called Free Saudi Liberals where people could have public and open debate in Saudi Arabia. Then he had the “audacity” to criticize some of the religious leadership within the powerful Middle Eastern nation. And for that he’s been sentenced to a decade in jail, a massive fine and will endure 50 lashes, once a week for 20 weeks.
Following his conviction, his wife and children fled to Canada.
According to a witness who was at the public beating (who asked for anonymity out of fear that the Saudi government might punish them), “Raif Badawi’s feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out.” This beating lasted for upwards of 15 minutes in front of hundreds of onlookers.
When the beating was over, many within the crowd shouted, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!,” which essentially means “God is great.”
The United States and other Western nations have condemned the punishment.
Did radical Islam do this? Was this the act of ISIL or al-Qaeda? No. This is Saudi Arabia, arguably the most powerful nation in the Middle East, doing this.
Now, to be fair, Saudi Arabia governs by a much stricter version of Islamic doctrine than some other Muslims nations. But they still share some of the same oppressive ideologies based upon the same religious principles that the majority of Muslims support. Many of these nations are still highly oppressive toward women, almost none of them allow homosexuals to be openly gay and freedom of speech is not exactly celebrated (if not outright condemned) in many nations governed by Sharia law.
Might I also remind everyone of the case a few years ago involving a 19-year-old Saudi women who was sexually assaulted by several men in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes – for the penalty of being in a car with a male who was not a relative.
And let’s also look at how homosexuality is viewed in the Muslim world.
Here’s a global map from The Washington Post of countries and their laws pertaining to homosexuality:
Notice how the orange and dark orange is primarily centered around predominately Islamic nations? Though, to be fair, there are a couple of Christian nations in Africa (Uganda for example) that are very harsh toward homosexuals. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the overwhelming majority of the nations with laws banning homosexual activity outright, or even sentencing homosexuals to death, are almost all Islamic nations ruled by some variation of Sharia law.
So while we’re having this debate about Islam, it’s easy to say that every religion has its radicals and that you can’t judge an entire religion based off the actions of a small percentage. And that is correct. Every religion does have its radicals. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of any organized religion. What the Muslim world needs more of is people like Badawi fighting against those who use Islam to oppress millions; it needs far less of the types who gathered to watch him get brutally beaten for daring to take a stand for free speech.
But Raif Badawi’s punishment isn’t being administered by Islamic radicals like ISIL or al-Qaeda. The 19-year-old woman who was brutally assaulted wasn’t sentenced to 200 lashes by the Taliban. Islamic terrorists don’t run Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Qatar where homosexuality is punishable by death.
Those are just ordinary sovereign Islamic nations.