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Saudi Arabian Court Refuses to Charge Saudi Blogger

Raif Badawi: Court refuses to charge Saudi blogger
By Sebastian Usher
Arab affairs editor, BBC News

It is unclear what Mr Badawi’s fate will be now the court has refused to charge him

A court in Saudi Arabia has found that a liberal blogger accused of apostasy has no case to answer.

The court had the power to sentence Raif Badawi to death had it found him guilty.

But it refused to charge him, referring his case back to a lower court.

Mr Badawi, the young co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested last year and accused of insulting Islam and showing disobedience.

His lawyer, Waleed Abu Alkhair, says he became a target for Saudi authorities after declaring 7 May last year a “day for Saudi liberals” – in order to have more open discussion about social and religious issues.

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the ‘Like’ button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians”

His wife, Ensaf, has stood by him but told the BBC of the personal cost of the case, with friends and family distancing themselves or even turning against them.

She now lives in Lebanon, but says she has received threatening messages.

“Two or three days after Raif’s hearing, I started to receive phone calls from unknown people, saying ‘we are going to kill your husband’. But I didn’t respond to them.”

This was after a judge in a lower court recommended that Mr Badawi should be tried for apostasy – for which he could have faced the death penalty – if the higher court had backed the charges.

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

It is unclear what happens next, but sources close to Mr Badawi say he believes he will now be shuttled between various courts to keep him in prison without attracting the further international criticism that a guilty verdict might bring.

Mr Badawi’s case is not unique. It highlights the constant push and pull between reformist and deeply conservative forces in Saudi Arabia.

A prominent writer, Turki al-Hamad, is currently under a form of house arrest for recent tweets criticising Islamists – he, too, could be charged with apostasy.

Another writer and blogger, Hamza Kashgari, was extradited from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia almost a year ago on similar charges. He has repented in court, but remains in jail.

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Free Speech, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues | Leave a comment

Morocco Rape Victims Will No Longer Be Required to Marry Rapist

Morocco To Change Law That Allowed Rapists To Avoid Punishment By Marrying Their Victims

RABAT, Morocco — Nearly a year after Morocco was shocked by the suicide of a 16-year-old girl who was forced to marry her alleged rapist, the government has announced plans to change the penal code to outlaw the traditional practice.

Women’s rights activists on Tuesday welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid’s announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming a penal code that doesn’t do enough to stop violence against women in this North African kingdom.

A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame.

Last March, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali poisoned herself to get out of a seven-month-old abusive marriage to a 23-year-old she said had raped her. Her parents and a judge had pushed the marriage to protect the family honor. The incident sparked calls for the law to be changed.

The traditional practice can be found across the Middle East and in places like India and Afghanistan where the loss of a woman’s virginity out of wedlock is a huge stain on the honor of the family or tribe.

While the marriage age is officially 18, judges routinely approve much younger unions in this deeply traditional country of 32 million with high illiteracy and poverty.

“Changing this article is a good thing but it doesn’t meet all of our demands,” said Khadija Ryadi, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. “The penal code has to be totally reformed because it contains many provisions that discriminate against women and doesn’t protect women against violence.”

She singled out in particular outmoded parts of the law that distinguish between “rape resulting in deflowering and just plain rape.” The new article proposed Monday, for instance, gives a 10-year penalty for consensual sex following the corruption of a minor but doubles the sentence if the sex results in “deflowering.”

Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights, echoed Ryadi’s concerns, explaining that the code only penalizes violence against women from a moral standpoint “and not because it is just violence.”

“The law doesn’t recognize certain forms of violence against women, such as conjugal rape, while it still penalizes other normal behavior like sex outside of marriage between adults,” she added. Recent government statistics reported that 50 percent of attacks against women occur within conjugal relations.

The change to the penal code has been a long time in coming and follows nearly a year of the Islamist-dominated government balking at reforming the law.

The Justice Ministry at the time argued that al-Filali hadn’t been raped and the sex, which took place when she was 15, had been consensual. The prime minister later argued in front of parliament that the marriage provision in the article was, in any case, rarely used.

“In 550 cases of the corruption of minors between 2009 and 2010, only seven were married under Article 475 of the penal code, the rest were pursued by justice,” Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said on Dec. 24.

While Morocco updated its family code in 2004, a comprehensive law combating violence against women has been languishing in Parliament for the past eight years.

Social Development Minister Bassima Hakkaoui, the sole female minister in Cabinet, said in September she would try to get the law out of Parliament and passed.

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Morocco, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

NBK Scam Kuwait

I received this three times this morning, in my Intlxpatr mail account. Trust me, Intlxpatr never had an NBK account, not as Intlxpatr. If you get this message, delete. It is a scam:

Screen shot 2013-01-23 at 8.21.32 AM

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Lies, Scams | Leave a comment