Friday, 23 November 2007

A shocking business

In today’s Independent, Joan Bakewell inveighs against the reluctance of feminists to protest against a horrific sentence recently meted out in Saudi Arabia upon a nineteen-year old woman who was ordered to receive two hundred lashes and be imprisoned for six months. Why? Because she had been the victim of a gang rape!

Shurely shome mistake? you ask. Not at all. Because, you see, this saucy lass had broken Saudi law by brazenly travelling in the same car with her boyfriend. They had the misfortune to be waylaid by a gang of seven men who proceeded to rape them both. And for their unIslamic immodesty they, as well as their attackers, are both being punished.

As Joan Bakewell says, “this is so totally at odds with the way we think and behave towards women that it’s hard to know how to get any purchase on the mind-set behind it”. But do we really need to? Must we be forever empathising with and seeking cultural excuses for barbaric brutality? This is sheer multicultural idiocy. Does it really matter whether Muslim susceptibilities are offended if we dare to say that such laws and such behaviour are primitive, disgusting, and utterly unacceptable to any 21st century person who considers themselves civilised?

It does, of course. Coincidentally with this verdict, HM the Queen was welcoming King Abdullah, the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace, and there was much governmental prattle about the “shared values” of our two countries. It would be interesting to know precisely what these “shared values” are thought to consist of. Obviously there is a common interest in oil, petrodollars, and lucrative armament contracts lubricated by slush funds. But the common cultural, religious, and social shared values entirely escape me.

Predictably, the Bush Administration has refused to condemn this wicked sentence because it is “an internal Saudi decision” and the USA, as we all know, NEVER interferes in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. But one might have hoped for better from the British government. No doubt there is official reluctance to criticise the Saudis over anything whatsoever in case they cut off the oil, or maybe even our heads. The one thing they are unlikely to cut off is the flow of Wahhabist preachers – funded, needless to say, by the petrodollars we pay for Saudi oil – who infest British mosques preaching hatred of Western values, ‘infidels’, and fomenting violent jihad.

It really is time that this mealymouthedness ceased, and that our elected rulers spoke out for decent human values. As Frank Furedi observes in his new book, Invitation to Terror, Western effectiveness in combatting our shadowy and imprecisely defined enemies is currently paralysed by a fear-induced unwillingness to speak obvious truths, and to call a spade a spade. For my part, enough is enough and until official British voices muster sufficient self-respect to speak out loudly and clearly against this atrocity I hang my head in shame for my country.


tyger said...

Don't they usually end these "shared-values" tête-a-têtes with the announcement of a major arms deal?

I'd be very disappointed if we're offering our hospitality on the cheap.

anticant said...

Are you joking? Is any transaction with the Saudis on the cheap so far as they are concerned? They are the world's best at driving a hard, and often corrupt, bargain. Any British jobs saved or created through arms deals with them are purchased with blood money, as our politicians and businessmen well know but are too conscienceless to care.

In the dim distant past we had a foreign secretary who spoke about an 'ethical foreign policy'. Not any more. It's apparently not in Britain's interests to speak the truth about what goes on in the world today. This is just one manifestation of the rottenness which infests our body politic. Until politicians are prepared to use honest words like 'bribery', 'cruelty', and 'tyranny' we have no business preaching at anyone else or laying claim to moral leadership.

Jose said...

I agree with you, Anticant. It couldn't be otherwise because the time is arriving when we, the pleb, take the reins of this wild horse that has taken the place of civilisation. I think those reins have been in the hands of the politicians for too long.

We cannot in any way accept methods that violate the dignity of people and "shared values" are shallow words that should be uttered carefully lest they impel "our" people to behave in likewise ways.

Emmett said...

THE Problem is, in any case, /our/ human selves. Contrary to the un-examined hope in 'humanism', too, the soldier who plunged his spear in Jesus' side in the fable was human, too; and, he /knew/ what he was doing.

AS To the ample horrors everywhere of to-day, the Arabians are far away; and, as technology 'speeds up' what passes for communication, the paradox is that they, as well as other cultures, will recede further, in a kind of compensatory & accelerating centrifugal retreat.

ALL Are in a desperate rout for the high ground in a time of looming bad possibilities which we /now control less than ever before/, even as we envision them better than ever.

'STILL Worse', at the end of the day, too, there is no objective (/sic/) way NOW to figure out which human set-up(s) will survive & carry on to the future, which in no case of course includes US.

SO Much for the outward state of affairs....

Merkin said...

Excellent article.