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Friday, May 14, 2004

Memo: King Richard to Lord Hastings

"Off with his head!" Or that's how Shakespeare put it.

What can I say about the tragic death of Nick Berg? The beheading was horrible and I certainly hope that the terrorists are brought to justice.

Of course, I'd like to see more discussion of the relatively common use of beheadings. This is from the February 2004 State Department Country Report on Human Rights:
The Government punished criminals according to its interpretation of Shari'a. Punishments included imprisonment, flogging, amputation, and execution by beheading. At year's end authorities acknowledged 32 executions, lower than the 43 in the previous year. Executions were for killings, narcotics-related offenses, rape, and armed robbery. The authorities punished repeated thievery and other repeated offenses by amputation of the right hand and left foot.
Can you guess the country?

It is Saudi Arabia, of course. According to Amnesty International's latest (2003) country report, Saudi Arabia has executed more than 1000 people in the last decade. Meanwhile, over 30 nations have banned the death penalty during the 1990s, bringing the number to over 105.

So what does the US think of Saudi Arabia? As I've blogged before, there's an interesting relationship between Bush and the Saudis.

President George W. Bush in 2002 on his relationship with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudia Arabia:
I was honored to welcome Crown Prince Abdallah to my ranch, a place that is very special for me, and a place where I welcome special guests to our country. The Crown Prince and I had a very cordial meeting that confirmed the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.

Our partnership is important to both our nations. of the really positive things out of this meeting was the fact that the Crown Prince and I established a strong personal bond. We spent a lot of time alone, discussing our respective visions, talking about our families. I was most interested in learning about how he thought about things. I'm convinced that the stronger our personal bond is, the more likely it is relations between our country will be strong...

It's a strong and important friendship, and he knows that and I know that...
On May 16, 2003, the President added simply:
Saudi Arabia is our friend...
Is the White House outraged when the Saudis behead someone?

You can find similar photos here.

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