Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Comparing Saudi Arabia to South Africa

In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Anne Applebaum compares the circumstances of women in Saudi Arabia to those of blacks in apartheid-era South Africa. She questions why the international community is not reacting to the former as it did to the latter.

The following is a passage from the piece: “A court in country X sentenced a black man who had been severely beaten by white men to six months in jail and 200 lashes.

How would you react if you read that in a newspaper? Shock, horror, anger at the regime in country X, no doubt. And once you learned that punishing blacks for associating with whites is routine in country X, you might even get angrier. You might call for sanctions, you might insist that country X not participate in the Olympics. You might demand that country X be treated like apartheid-era South Africa.

In fact the sentence is real – almost. When originally published on the CBS News Web site last month, the story concerned a woman, not a black man, and country X was Saudi Arabia.

Here is the real quote:

‘A Saudi court sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes.’

True, this extraordinary case, in which a rape victim was condemned for associating with a man not her relative, did create a small international echo. Hillary Clinton led a chorus of Democrats condemning the ruling, and a few editorials condemned it, too. It wasn’t much, but it mattered: Thanks to international pressure, the Saudi king has pardoned the woman. And now? In Saudi Arabia women still can't vote, can't drive, can’t leave the house without a male relative. No campaign of the kind once directed at South Africa has ever been mounted in their defense.”

For the full piece, click here.


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