Paralysis Punishment: Has Saudi Gone Too Far This Time? Featured

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Now Saudi Arabia has thrown some shockers our way throughout its somewhat corrupt history, but this week sees the disturbing case of Ali al-Khawahir, a 24 year old man who is to face surgical paralysis from the waist down as punishment for paralyzing another man 10 years ago, unless… wait for it, his family are able to come up with one million Saudi Riyals (£250,000) in compensation to the victim. This unimaginably grotesque sentence seems too much for our Western brains to comprehend, and Amnesty International have sent an urgent plea for this punishment not to be enforced.

Saudi Arabia operates with Islamic Sharia law, which enforces eye-for-an-eye punishment but allows convicts to be excused in exchange for what we might (and will) call blood money. This is by no means the first case of Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law, but the sheer magnitude of the punishment has attracted masses of international criticism. Other cases have seen eye gouging, tooth-extractions and other pleasant spa treatments.

One of the most shocking parts to this case, second to the obvious, is that Ali al-khawahir was just 14 years old when he committed the heinous crime of stabbing in the spine and consequently paralyzing a friend (the term ‘friend’ must be used loosely in Saudi Arabia). He has since then spent the last ten years in prison fearing his eventual fate. Khawahir’s family doesn’t have even a tenth of the asking price for his freedom, despite an unnamed philanthropist’s best efforts to help raise the money. Yes, Khawahir’s crime as a 14-year-old boy was brutal and there’s no question as to whether he should be punished, but to such torturous measures is utterly inconceivable. There is no way it can be justified.

Raping a rapist, torturing a torturer and surgically removing a man’s right to walk because he paralyzed another, is not justice, it is insanity. It’s time Saudi Arabia removed these disgusting punishments from their laws. Where will it stop? Khawahir’s case truly highlights that there is no line, no boundaries to the magnitude of these brutal punishments. All we can do is hope that Amnesty International and the UN can intervene in some way to find justice within this unfathomable country. 

Deborah Todd

Currently muddling my way through student life.

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