Monday, November 20, 2006

Saudi Arabia: False Imprisonment And Rape Are "Basic Muslim Behaviors"

That sounds like an extreme statement, right? But, I didn't say it.

Check this out:

On June 30 this year, a Saudi living in Arapahoe County, Colorado, was convicted of sexual abuse against his Indonesian maid. 37-year old Homaidan al-Turki (pictured, right) was studying for a linguistics doctorate at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was found guilty of 12 felony counts of unlawful sexual contact with use of force and two misdemeanors, false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment.

He had never paid the maid the paltry $150 per month that he had promised her when her "employment" had commenced. For four years, he kept the 24-year old maid as a virtual slave in his home, confiscated her passport, and subjected to her to sexual assaults which culminated in her rape in late 2004.

His attorney, John Richilano, had argued in court that there had been misunderstood cultural differences, which he described as "cynical Islamophobia". His wife, Sarah Khonaizan, who had obviously colluded with the maltreatment of the maid, who cooked and looked after their five children, was deported. The maid now lives in Aurora.

Al-Turki's followers and family caused havoc in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. He was sentenced on August 31. Additionally, he was given a further eight years' jail for theft, where he withheld the maid's wages. Even while being sentenced, Al-Turki, who had lived in the US for 14 years, still protested that he was "framed" by the prosecutors' Islamophobia.

"The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors. Attacking traditional Muslim behaviors was the focal point of the prosecution," Al-Turki said to the judge. If you have read our special report on a Filipino maid who was similarly kept a prisoner in a Saudi imam's home in Riyadh, and subjected to frequent rape, then perhaps this sort of "Muslim behavior" comes naturally to Saudi Arabian men.

The Saudi press has described the case as one of Islamophobic oppression, with the US judiciary expressing their bias against Muslims. Many Saudis are convinced that Al-Turki would never have been convicted in Saudi Arabia. The experiences of Flora del Mindanao, who was even accused of theft by the imam who imprisoned and raped her, would suggest that this is true.

A US government report stated:

"Foreign embassies continued to receive reports of employers abusing domestic servants. Such abuse included withholding of food, beatings and other physical abuse, and rape (see Section 5). The Government's figures for 1999 stated that 7,000 maids fled their place of employment, and the actual number presumably was higher. In 2001 the media reported additional stories of such incidents. The authorities in some cases forced such maids to return to their places of employment.

"Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to work unless they have permission from a male relative, states Human Rights Watch. They are not allowed to drive, such is their second-class status. But for the imported maids, there is little redress when they are assaulted or raped by their Saudi employers.

Go read the rest.