King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been urged to personally intervene and release a local woman who has been accused of disobeying her father and thrown in prison, triggering widespread criticism of the law.
The Saudi online paper Anbaukum and Alarabiya net carried what they described as strong reactions by well-known columnists and human rights activists against an order issued by a judge in the western Red Sea port of Jeddah to jail Samar Badawi for opposing her father, branding the sentence illegal.
Writing in the paper, human rights activist Ibrahim Bahli slammed the Gulf Kingdom’s Human Rights groups for their “silence” towards the order by Judge Abdullah Al Atheem to lock up Badawi, who has been in jail for over six months. He was also critical of the country’s royal family.
“We wonder how the Prince of the region and the city’s governor fail to persuade this judge to release Samar Badawi although they are fully convinced that she has been oppressed…how can they fail in ending this oppression,” he said.
“I just want to ask the Custodian of the Holy Shrines (King Abdullah)….where is your sword which you have vowed to use against oppression and corruption.”
The paper said Badawi, in her 30s, had filed a complaint against her father for his cruelty and attempts to blackmail her. She told court that her father has prevented her from marrying again after she was divorced.
According to the report, her father lost the case but he appealed the sentence with the Jeddah court, which immediately ordered the imprisonment of Badawi without any trial on the grounds she had disobeyed her father.
“The Human Rights Society has sent an appeal for King Abdullah to intervene personally to release Badawi without any condition and to amend rules pertaining to fathers’ custody of their daughters,” the paper said.
The paper said Badawi was still in prison despite growing pressure on the judge, who is also preventing her from seeing her seven-year-old son.
In a comment published in some Saudi newspapers, a prominent Saudi columnist said the woman’s father should be jailed not his daughter.
“She filed a complaint against her father for maltreatment…instead of supporting her or even checking her complaint, the judge threw her in jail with other criminals while the defendant is outside breathing freedom,” Suzan Mashadi said.
“Perhaps her father will tell her now that she must come back home as she can not do anything because he owns her and can control her destiny…he will tell her that he can throw her in jail again and no one would be able to help her…he will tell her that she must know that freedom is not for the best, living in dignity is not for the best and freedom of choice is not for the best…its only for males.”
Another writer, Asharf Faqih, described the imprisonment of Badawi is “absolute oppression” that is not based on any legal constitution or rule.
“This is the real problem…there is no clear law in Saudi Arabia…there are too many written rules and laws but the mechanism of their implementation remains afloat and without lawful umbrella,” he wrote in the paper.