From Doha News:
At this time last year, Alison Patterson was celebrating Mother’s Day in the UK with two of her three children. Her eldest daughter Lauren was working in Qatar, and sent a gift and a card home, as she always did when she was away.
Today, things are very different for the Patterson family. Daughter Lauren was killed in October by acquaintances in Doha, and on Thursday, a criminal court here found two Qatari men responsible for the 24-year-old teacher’s murder.
One of the defendants, 22-year-old Badr Hashim Khamis Abdullah Al-Jabar, was given a death sentence.
The other, 24-year-old Muhammad Abdullah Hassan Abdul Aziz, was handed a three-year jail term for helping Al-Jabar burn Patterson’s body, which was considered damaging and erasing evidence.
At the time of the sentencing, Alison Patterson told media that “justice was served” in the case of Al-Jabar, but that she was deeply upset with Abdul Aziz’s lighter sentence.
In an interview with Doha Newstoday, Patterson said she is worried that neither of the convicted men will pay for what they did to her daughter.
“Is it something that’s just been said – and that’s never going to happen?” she asked.
At the root of her doubts is a scene she witnessed after Thursday’s verdict inside the courthouse. Patterson had gone in search of her two younger children, and ended up passing a sitting area where the defendants were being held.
“They were just laughing and joking with each other,” she said. “It just almost makes me feels that they were laughing at what happened. They have no respect for the sentence they’ve been given.”
Another issue that troubles her is that Qatar has not executed any prisoners in more than a decade, according to Amnesty International.
Prior to her daughter’s death, Patterson said she never gave the death penalty much thought. But after being told that Al-Jabar sexually assaulted her daughter, stabbed her to death and then attempted to burn her remains at a farm outside of Doha, she said she supported the punishment.
“Lauren came home in a box the weighed 7 kilos,” Patterson said with regards to her daughter’s remains. “She weighed 50 kilos when she died.”
Patterson has also been unable to shake an argument she read on a recent blog post about her daughter’s case on “Muslims Worldwide,” which she found while googling Lauren’s name.
The site appears to be full of hate speech about Islam and its adherents, but the post on Patterson struck a chord with Lauren’s mother because it questioned whether the quick sentencing of Al-Jabar was done so that officials could close the book on this crime, which the prosecutor called “heinous, foreign and shocking to a society as conservative as Qatar’s.”
The blog post reads:
“Sharia gives no justice to a kafir (non-Muslim/non-believer). And it never gives a death sentence to a Muslim over a crime committed against a non-Muslim…
So why would they announce the ‘death penalty’ if it is not given out? To appease the media. This case has been circulating all over the world. Arabs can’t stand negative media attention…These Arab countries make bogus claims of justice only to get the media off their back. In reality they keep them in prison and release them after 1-2 years.”
The last sticking point is that the verdicts must pass through two appellate courts here before they’re officially final, meaning closure could be some ways off for Patterson and her family.
Speaking to Doha News, Patterson’s partner Kevin Crotty said they were grateful for all the Qatari government has done to ensure a speedy trial.
“They’ve been more than generous and more than reasonable,” he said. “Everything’s been done that should have been done. But them (the defendants) smiling – and the lighter sentence for the second one… Ultimately, we’ve always felt the political angle was there. Is there something that we should worry about?”
The Pattersons’ lawyer, Sami Abu Shaikha, has said he plans to appeal Abdul Aziz’s three-year sentence, asking for a more severe penalty.
Meanwhile, Alison Patterson, who has started smoking again after 15 years due to the stress of all that’s happened, said she knows that whatever the outcome, the pain will likely never go away.
“There will never be peace. (But) I just really don’t want to be let down,” she said.
Qatar makes some great laws – like fining those who go through red lights, or who drive near the speed of light. . . but when the violators turn out to be mostly young Qattari men, who pays the fines? Does anyone pay the fines?
From Doha News:
In an effort to tackle bad driving in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior plans to set up speed radars every two to four kilometers on major roads, Traffic Department Director Brig. Mohamed Saad Al Kharji has said.
Additionally, some 120 radars are being installed to catch drivers who overtake others from the right lane, the Qatar Tribune reports Al Kharji as saying.
He added that the software of speed radars that are already installed on the roads would be updated so that they could also catch such violators.
No timeline for when the cameras would be installed was disclosed. But last fall, the MOI announced it would be rolling out radars to catch queue-jumpers.
Using the “slow” right lane to overtake vehicles in the left lane is a traffic violation punishable by a QR500 ticket, but among one of several rules flouted by motorists here.
In Qatar, traffic violators are rarely pulled over by police officers, despite brief campaigns to step up enforcement. In 2012, plainclothes police officers began ticketing drivers who overtook other vehicles on the right.
And at the end of last year, the traffic department began a three-month campaign to ticket those who violate road rules, including drivers who hadn’t fastened their seat belts, used their phones while driving, and rode without a license.
Both initiatives were lauded by many residents who said enforcement is key to improving safety on the roads, but neither seem to have lasted.
Timing is everything. I had wait to get these photos until enough ice had formed to make it interesting, but before I lost what little light we had with the clouds, rain, sleet and now freezing rain.
If you are the praying kind, I ask your prayers for the homeless, those without heat, those who still have to make it home (so far the roads are OK but the bridges may start icing soon) and for these poor helpless birds seeking shelter on a night which will show them no pity.
Today we had one of those adrenalin experiences I haven’t had since leaving Kuwait. As we turned left onto a major thoroughfare, we were almost side-swiped on the left by a car turning left and driving the wrong way down the lane into which we were turning.
Fortunately, AdventureMan saw him in plenty of time, and made room. So we were behind this guy. Normally we just assume people are inattentive, or arrogant. For us, it’s not that important; just let ’em go their way.
Today, our eyes were as wide as saucers. This same driver kept driving over into the left hand lane. At first, I thought he was going to turn, but he made no turn. AdventureMan honked, to alert him to the fact that he was in the lane where cars were coming his way, headed right into him, we thought maybe he was texting.
Then he shifted all the way over headed into the parking lane, then wove back into the oncoming traffic. Fortunately, all the traffic – and this driver – were all going relatively slowly and the oncoming traffic pulled over. Everyone could see something was not normal.
AdventureMan spotted a police car, just behind us, and pulled over so that the police car would be directly behind this driver. The police car put on the flashers and this driver was oblivious, just continued weaving from the oncoming traffic to the parking lane, until after a very long 30 – 45 seconds, the siren sounded. It was as if the driver woke up – and maybe he did. He pulled over.
AdventureMan and I had one of those conversations where we look for the right word. This driver was more than impaired. Truly, this driver was totally incapacitated in some way. Maybe he had just come from the hospital where he had been up for several nights with his terminally ill wife, in which case he was driving-while-sleep-deprived, a condition that happens more than you would like to think. Maybe he had the flu, and his medication had knocked him for a loop? Maybe he was falling down drunk? Maybe he was on some kind of drug? Maybe he was just driving-while-oblivious, texting?
We will never know. A couple hours later, we passed along the same stretch of road and watched a tow truck haul the car away as the police watched. We hope that whoever the driver was has been hospitalized, or taken somewhere he cannot harm himself. We are also very thankful that we were behind this driver, not in front of him or coming from the other direction. It was one of life’s little adventures.
God willing, in life, people cross paths and share their stories. I told you about Manyang, how he visited us near Christmas in 2012 and how his story changed our lives. Now, when we hear stories of the South Sudan, it is immediate, it is real, because we know the story of a young boy grown to be a very fine man, who survived the chaos and horrors of the janjaweed invasions and tribal conflicts before his country attained nationhood.
I recently wrote to Manyang, hoping he is still alive. It was that basic. I asked him, if he could, just to let us know he was alive, and that whether he could respond or not, our prayers were with him, for him, his family and his country.
This morning, by the grace of God, I received this wonderful response. Please, join your prayers with ours for Manyang/David, and his country, South Sudan, for peace, safety and prosperity, for justice and equitable distribution of resources.
I am glad to hear from you again. I have been talking of the nice people I was able to meet in Pensacola. Whenever, I talk about these people you are the first people I talk about. I still remember the nice dinner we had in your house.
I think God touched you to worry about my safety. You might have heard from news report the critical condition my country – South Sudan is going through. It is just like the story of my childhood to many other children now.
A political row in the ruling party here, turned violent in Juba, the capital of this country on December 15, 2013. Heavy artillary were fired and sporadic gunfire broke out in most part of the city. it was a genesis of another war which is now going on. Thousands of people were killed only in Juba.
I was in Bor, the captal of Jonglei State, about 125 miles north of Juba. The violent in Juba quickly spread to us in Bor and I was forced to flee to the bush with my family and the rest of the civil population as the town was quickly seized by anti-government forces. I carried my back on my head, walk long distant and drink dirty water again and eat grains when I was in the bush for seven days.
(This is a screenshot from Google Maps; Bor is the “A” north of Juba)
(These are photos from Manyang’s BBC blog, referenced below. Please go there to read more in his own words about the terrors of the South Sudan chaos.)
The government forces recaptured the town and we returned to the town. Many more people were killed and bodies were lying everywhere and there was a terrible smell. The rebels killed everyone they found in the town including old women, lame, deaf and all vulnerable people. And I was wounded in the upper left arm by a stray bullet of soldiers celebrating. The wound has healed and I am fine now.
It did not take long for the rebel to recaptured the town of goverment forces for a second time. And I was force to flee, this time cross the River Nile by boat to a makeshift camp across the river. This was where I got an access to go to Juba which was abit calm at the time. I am now in Juba staying in fear, not knowing where else to go.
God was speaking to you those conditions I was in in December and part of January. We spent Christmas and New Year Day on the run. I am glad for your prayers were able to lead me out of that mess. I still have hope that your prayers will continue to press political leaders to reach a peaceful solution to this crisis.
I have a live blog where I am sharing my bush experiences. You may have a look.
Share my message with the rest of the great people of Pensacola. My heart is always there with you.
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By the grace of God, we got through the first week of December. By the grace of God, we managed to enjoy our first week in December!
The first week in December this year followed directly after Thanksgiving. Often, there is a weekend between Thanksgiving and December, but this year, December started on Sunday, and there goes one weekend before Christmas. You might wonder why this is even important, but for some reason, there are so many things scheduled the first week of December, on top of the normal things scheduled for the first week of every month – you know, small things like bill paying and making sure your finances are in order🙂
So we had our normal first week of the month – Book Club, babysitting, exercise classes, bible study – AND. And we had a house guest, a very old friend, a friend from all the way back in Tunis, when we were all studying languages, our guest and my husband learning Arabic and me learning French. Our guest and I sang in the community choir together, and he was very much a part of our small expat family. Having him in our home was so easy, we came and went, fortunately at different times. On top of all this, we also had a couple of annual Christmas related events, social events, we had to attend. By the grace of God, it all went smoothly, and – this is the mercy – enjoyably. We weren’t stressed.
I was stressed a little yesterday. The last two days have been horrible for me, in terms of climate. You know, I like NO air conditioning, I like temperatures in the 60s and 70s (F) but the temperatures were almost 80 and HUMID. Bad enough I had to turn on our A/C last night so I could sleep, and feeling so grumpy. I really need to get the Christmas decorations up this weekend so I can get on with my December, enjoy the Christmas ambiance and not have to stress about getting things done. But how do you get Christmas decorations up when you are hot and sweaty, it just isn’t right.
Major mercy – when I woke up this morning, I was wrapped warmly in my quilts and . . . I wasn’t feeling hot or sweaty. As as matter of fact, overnight the temperatures had fallen into the 40’s! Woooo HOOOO, out came all the Christmas boxes and tubs; AdventureMan got busy putting up the lights, I pulled out the other things and we got busy. Around lunch time we had a wonderful lunch, and then went searching for more light; I hadn’t bought enough to cover the length of our porch. After four fruitless stops (the lights had to match or it was all for nothing) we came home empty handed and I checked online for where this brand was sold. It was Home Depot, the one store we hadn’t stopped at because I was so sure I hadn’t bought them there. Wooo HOOOO, one quick trip and we have all the lights we need and AdventureMan got them all up.
AdventureMan is more scrupulous than I am about some things. He . . . . read the instructions on the lights. Have you ever done that? Like where it talks about amps and resistance and fire warnings? LOL, I love a lot of lights, and will string lights on lights on lights. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I sort of knew it might be dangerous, but AdventureMan takes those things seriously. The good thing is that we are still married, and much more safely wired than when I was doing it.
I can hear my son scoffing when I say that today was God’s mercy on me, but to him I say God makes it to rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, and as undeserving as I am, today he gave me exactly what I needed – a chilly, Christmas-decorating kind of day. Thanks be to God.