Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saudi Arabia's law: medieval and barbarious

Egypt on Thursday barred doctors from taking up jobs in Saudi Arabia after an Egyptian medic was sentenced to 1,500 lashes and 15 years in jail for allegedly turning a Saudi princess into a drug addict. Manpower and Immigration Minister Aisha Abdel Hadi has "stopped issuing work permits to Egyptian doctors in Saudi Arabia until the end of the crisis," the independent Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper reported.

The decision came after talks between the Egyptian consulate and the Saudi Arabian authorities reached a dead-end, the newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying. No permits will be issued until further notice, it said, but added that Egyptian doctors already in Saudi Arabia can continue working because they have contractual obligations.

Doctor Rauf Amin, 53, was sentenced for giving the unidentified princess morphine to ease her pain following a riding accident, which allegedly turned her into an addict. The penalty against Amin, who is being whipped at the rate of 10-15 lashes a week during his prison term, has sparked protests in Egypt.

Hamdi al-Sayyad, director of Egypt's Doctors Syndicate, last week described Amin's trial as unfair and his sentence -- which was doubled on appeal in March from 750 lashes and seven years prison -- as torture. "He did not have a fair trial; there was not even any adequate medical expert opinion," he said.

"This judgment is more about torture than justice and does not correspond with any kind of law, human rights or even sharia (Islamic law)."

Flogging is a standard punishment in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom, which enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism.

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