Human Rights Violated in Jordan and Saudi Arabia
Lutfi M. Hussein
lutfi.hussein at ASU.EDU
Fri Mar 22 04:50:57 UTC 2002
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Saudi editor fired, writer jailed for scathing poem
DUBAI (AP) - A poet who penned a scathing criticism of Saudi Arabia's Islamic judges has been jailed and the newspaper editor who published the poem fired, a Saudi official said Wednesday.
Prince Nayef, the interior minister, ordered Mohammad Mokhtar Al Fal, editor-in-chief of the Arabic-language Al Madina, to be fired a few days after the poem, titled "The Corrupt on Earth," appeared March 10, said the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
The poet, Abdul Mohsen Musalam, was jailed, the official said. It was not clear what he was charged with or whether he would be formally tried.
In a country where dissent is not tolerated, Musalam's poem accused the Islamic judges of taking bribes and ruling unjustly to please "tyrants."
"It is sad that in the Muslim world, justice is suffering from a few judges who care for nothing but their bank accounts and their status with the rulers," the poem's introduction read.
The judicial system in Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, or Islamic law. A judge or panel of judges hears a case, cross-examines the defendant and possible witnesses, and pronounces the verdicts and the sentence.
Unlike Western courts, the accused are not defended by lawyers, except in very rare cases where Westerners are involved and the conservative kingdom is worried about international opinion.
Musalam, a former editor at the English-Language Saudi Gazette, took his title from the Koran, which rules that "the corrupt on earth" must be put to death.
The poem reads, in part: "How many (sacred) verses and sayings you have slaughtered.
"Your beards are smeared with blood.
"You indulge a thousand tyrants and tyrant and only him do you obey."
Al Fal could not be reached for comment, and an official at the paper refused to comment, saying only that "the poem was published, that's that, and Al Fal is no longer with us."
Al Madina, like most other Saudi newspapers, is government-controlled.
Criticising judges and other religious authorities is rare in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Last week, Saudi newspapers launched an unprecedented attack on members of the religious police - the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, accusing them of blocking rescue attempts by male firefighters and paramedics at a fire in a school for girls in Mecca, western Saudi Arabia.
'Editor of weekly to be released on bail bond'
By Saad G. Hattar
AMMAN - Al Bilad weekly editor-in-chief Hashem Khalidi is to be released from detention today, three days after he was detained on charges of publishing "false information," a judicial source said.
"We set a JD1,000 bail bond on Wednesday for the release of Khalidi, but his lawyers did not show up in time to finalise the legal procedures," the source told The Jordan Times.
Al Bilad's publisher Tajeddin Hroub was released without bail on Tuesday after he spent 24 hours in detention for questioning in connection with the charges against his colleague. No charges were brought against Hroub.
Khalidi was detained on Sunday for 15 days pending trial on charges of "publishing false material deemed harmful to the country's reputation and that of its citizens."
Al Bilad published an article last week in which it accused officials of doubling vehicle insurance premiums earlier this month for personal gain.
Former Deputy (1993-97) Toujan Faisal, in jail since Saturday, made similar accusations against the government on an Internet site and in interviews with Arab television networks.
By press time Wednesday, Faisal's lawyers were still trying to win her release.
An initial bail request for Faisal was rejected on Saturday. Her lawyers submitted a second bail request the next day but the State Security Court has not yet responded.
Faisal is reportedly still on a hunger strike in protest against her detention.
Lutfi M. Hussein
Department of English
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302, USA
Email address: lutfi.hussein at asu.edu
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