Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Saudi Religious Police Forced to Desist

In another first in Saudi Arabia, a writer who was sentenced to four months in prison and 275 lashes by the religious police (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) has been rescued by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Dr. Ali [Hamza] Al-Mizeini, an Arabic language professor at King Saud University, was charged by the commission with allegedly questioning the religious institution’s abilities and knowledge in an article written by him in Al-Watan newspaper. The commission was represented in court by another professor at the university, Abdullah Al-Barak from the Islamic Culture Department.
The case was tried in Shariah Court by Judge Suleiman Al-Fantooh.
The judge’s ruling violates the Royal Decree No. 37 of the publication law in Saudi Arabia issued in November, 2000, which states that Shariah courts in the Kingdom should not intervene in trying journalists or writers and that all matters concerning the media and publications should be dealt with through the Ministry of Information.
It seems that the religious police are not as unstoppable as they have been.

H/T Crossroads Arabia.

UPDATED:
Corrected name.

Also, Crown Prince Abdullah has intervened.
Prince Abdullah issued the decree to annul the court ruling. Al-Mizeini had also been told that he would be banned from writing in the Saudi media. The decree was in response to the judge’s violation when he issued a verdict against the writer despite his knowledge of a Royal Decree announced last week which states that all conflicts that concern publication matters must be dealt with through the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Hamza Al-Mizeini will not be flogged 275 times, nor assuming he survives the flogging go to jail for four months, but he will be prevented from writing for Saudi media. Saudi media. Saudi media.

Interesting.
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