2 Nov 2010

Saudi Princess fears execution or honour killing of herself and child, granted secret asylum in U.K.

The Independent - UK July 20, 2009

Princess facing Saudi death penalty given secret UK asylum

Woman feared she would be stoned after giving birth to an illegitimate child in Britain

By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs Editor | The Independent

A Saudi Arabian princess who had an illegitimate child with a British man has secretly been granted asylum in this country after she claimed she would face the death penalty if she were forced to return home. The young woman, who has been granted anonymity by the courts, won her claim for refugee status after telling a judge that her adulterous affair made her liable to death by stoning.

Her case is one of a small number of claims for asylum brought by citizens of Saudi Arabia which are not openly acknowledged by either government. British diplomats believe that to do so would in effect be to highlight the persecution of women in Saudi Arabia, which would be viewed as open criticism of the House of Saud and lead to embarrassing publicity for both governments.

The woman, who comes from a very wealthy Saudi family, says she met her English boyfriend – who is not a Muslim – during a visit to London. They struck up a relationship.

She became pregnant the following year and worried that her elderly husband – a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia – had become suspicious of her behaviour, she persuaded him to let her visit the UK again to give birth in secret. She feared for her life if she returned to Saudi Arabia.

She persuaded the court that if she returned to the Gulf state she and her child would be subject to capital punishment under Sharia law – specifically flogging and stoning to death. She was also worried about the possibility of an honour killing.

Since she fled Saudi Arabia, her family and her husband's family have broken off contact with her.

The woman has been granted permanent leave to remain in the UK after the Immigration and Asylum tribunal allowed her appeal.

The Home Office yesterday declined to discuss the case. A spokesman for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London said that he would call back but subsequently became unavailable.

Relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia have been strained in recent years and were brought to a head in 2006 when Tony Blair intervened to end a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into alleged kickbacks paid in a multibillion military aircraft deal between the two states.

The Saudi royal family was deeply concerned about the idea that the investigators might try o open up their Swiss bank accounts, it was alleged at the time.

This led the Saudis to threaten to restrict the sharing of intelligence relating to terror activity if the prosecution went ahead. They also threatened to pull out of other highly-lucrative arms deals.

Last year, the House of Lords ruled that the SFO's decision to drop the corruption investigation into the £43bn Saudi arms deal with BAE Systems was unlawful.

In a hard-hitting ruling, two High Court judges described the SFO's decision as "an outrage".

One of them, Lord Justice Moses, said the SFO and the Government had given into "blatant threats" that Saudi intelligence co-operation would end unless the probe into corruption was halted.

"No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice," he said. "It is the failure of government and the defendant to bear that essential principle in mind that justifies the intervention of this court."

The Middle East state has been shrouded in controversy over oppressive policies against women and homosexuals. Secrecy surrounds much of the Saudi legal system, but in a recent report on the use of the death penalty in the kingdom, the human rights group Amnesty International highlighted its extensive use against men and women.

Adulterers face public stonings and floggings and, in the most serious cases, beheadings and hangings.

The high numbers of executions in Saudi Arabia in 2007 continued into 2008. There were at least 102 executions of men and women last year – at an average rate of two every week. Amnesty is aware of at least 136 individuals currently awaiting execution.

Last week, Saudi Arabia's religious police were blamed for the death of two sisters who were murdered in what was deemed an "honour killing" by their brother, after the sisters were arrested for allegedly mixing with men to whom they were not related.

The Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia said that the religious police had arrested the two sisters, aged 19 and 21, thus putting their lives in danger.

Their brother shot them dead in front of their father when they left a women's shelter in Riyadh on 5 July, according to Saudi news reports.

In 2007, in a case that shocked Saudis, a woman from Qatif was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison after being gang-raped. She offended cultural expectations because she was unaccompanied when she got into a car with a former boyfriend.

The man had agreed to hand back a photograph of the woman who was about to marry another man, but as they drove along a street they were stopped and seized by seven men who raped them both. The woman was originally sentenced to 90 lashes but the sentence was increased when she appealed. Eventually, after an international outcry, she was pardoned.

In 2007, King Abdullah II of Saudi Arabia was jeered during a state visit to Britain as dozens of demonstrators turned out to protest at his country's human rights record.

This article was found at



The Independent - July 20, 2009

Fate of another royal found guilty of adultery

By Lewis Smith | The Independent

By claiming asylum in Britain, the Saudi princess is seeking to avoid the fate of another member of her royal family who was executed after admitting adultery.

Princess Mishaal bint Fahd al Saud, the 19-year-old great-niece of the late King Khalid, was shot several times in the head in 1977. Her death is thought to have been ordered by her grandfather, Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the King's older brother. She was unmarried but had confessed that she had committed adultery.

The killing became the focus of an international outcry in 1980 when the docu-drama Death Of A Princess was shown on teleivison. Saudi authorities tried to get the film suppressed and, when that failed, they expelled the British ambassador to Riyadh, withdrew 400 members of their royal family from Britain and cancelled millions of pounds worth of exports.

Most executions carried out in the kingdom are by beheading in a public square, but stoning is the technique reserved for married people convicted of adultery. Among the offences which rank beside adultery as capital crimes are murder, drug-trafficking and sodomy.

In 2008, Saudi courts ordered the executions of 102 people for various offences, a fall from the record 156 people put to death in 2007. Forty women have been executed since 1990. In a report last year, the human rights group Amnesty International said at least one woman was facing the possibility of execution for adultery. The woman had been married to a Saudi who died six years beforehand. She was arrested in 2005 after giving birth to a girl and was sentenced to death by stoning. Her fate is unclear.

A couple from Sri Lanka working in Saudi Arabia were convicted of adultery in March and sentenced to death by stoning. The sentence was reduced to six years in prison and 700 lashes. A 23-year-old Saudi woman was sentenced to 100 lashes and a year in prison earlier this year after being gang-raped. She became pregnant and was arrested when she tried to arrange an abortion.

This article was found at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/fate-of-another-royal-found-guilty-of-adultery-1753012.html \


Where ever women's and children's rights are violated, other human rights violations affecting the entire population are sure to follow, as this next article on cultural censorship demonstrates. A society that subjugates its women can never be truly free, since denying freedom of thought and expression is essential to that subjugation. Women and children can never exercise their basic human rights if they don't know they are entitled to those rights. As the previous post on educating Afhanistan girls shows, it is the education of girls that religious extremists like the Taliban or the fundamentalist Mormons (the American Taliban?) fear the most.

The Independent - July 20, 2009

Saudi film festival is cancelled in state crackdown on culture

By Souhail Karam, Reuters, in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia's only film festival has been cancelled, dealing a blow to reformist hopes of an easing of clerical control over culture that was raised by the low-key return of cinemas in December.

In a country where cinemas were banned for almost three decades, the Jeddah Film Festival has since 2006 presented aspiring Saudi film-makers and actors with a rare opportunity to mingle with more experienced peers from other countries. On the eve of the festival, Mamdouh Salem, one of the festival's organisers, received a call. He said: "The governorate of Jeddah notified us of the festival's cancellation after it received instructions from official parties. We were not told why."

Abdullah al-Alami, a Saudi writer, said he was not sure why the fourth Jeddah festival, expected to start in the Islamic kingdom's most liberal city this weekend, was cancelled.

"However, there is a trend of attacking cultural festivities," he added. "This is a dark day for art and literature in our modern history." King Abdullah has tried cautious reforms in the kingdom, a US ally which has no elected parliament, but diplomats say he is facing resistance from conservatives opposing changes.

Many Saudi religious conservatives believe films from more liberal Arab countries such as Egypt could violate religious taboos. Some also view cinema and acting as a form of dissembling inconsistent with Islam.

"The film festival was cancelled upon indirect instructions from the interior ministry," said an official at the information and culture ministry.

Cinema made a low-key return in December with the showing in Jeddah and another southern city of the Saudi comedy Menahi. The film, produced by a company owned by King Abdullah's nephew, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, attracted such large numbers that it had to be screened up to eight times a day. It was shown before mixed audiences, a rare thing to happen in a country that bans unrelated men and women from mixing.

But there was a sharp reaction from Ibrahim al-Ghaith, the former head of the kingdom's religious police, which showed the opposition from hard-liners to efforts to open up the society. He said cinema was an evil, although he eased his tone 24 hours later to say cinemas should show good things and not violate teachings of Islam.

In February, King Abdullah removed Mr Ghaith and another influential cleric in a wide government reshuffle. However, when the film came to the the more conservative capital, Riyadh, local newspapers reported that conservative Saudis, including volunteers with the religious police, tried to disturb the screening. The Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, later signalled his backing for the religious police saying they were on a par with the security forces.

Prince Alwaleeed was undettered. His company, Rotana, boldly put itself up as the main sponsor of the Jeddah festival, donating proceeds from his film. The week-long festival was to have featured a competition between eight feature films made in the Gulf – two from Saudi Arabia itself – and show dozens more shorts by local and regional film-makers.

This article was found at:


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