Monday, November 19, 2007

Bush administration declines to condemn Saudi rape case outrage

A Bush administration spokesman offered the mildest critique imaginable of a Saudi court's decision to have a 19-year-old rape victim flogged and jailed for having ridden in a car with a male non-relative prior to her attack.

I expressed the hope in an earlier post that President Bush might rebuke the Saudi government over this outrage. After all, the president has long insisted that the liberation of Arab women is a cornerstone of his Middle East policy. This being the case, it seemed unimaginable that the president would remain silent about the Saudi court's apalling decision.

Today, a State Department spokesman asserted that the administration does not consider the case any of its business.

"This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack when asked to comment on the case.

"That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens," added McCormack.

McCormack declined to directly criticize the Saudi government, or the legal system, which has made a series of erratic verdicts in recent months.

"I don't have anything else to offer," said McCormack when pressed on what he meant that people would be "astonished" over such verdicts.

Asked whether the Saudi authorities should reconsider the sentence against the woman, McCormack said he could not "get involved in specific court cases in Saudi Arabia dealing with its own citizens."
Interestingly, it was six years ago, almost to the day, that First Lady Laura Bush delivered a radio address explicitly connecting the issue of women's rights to the so-called War on Terror.

On November 17, 2001, Mrs. Bush praised her husband for liberating the women of Afghanistan when the U.S. invaded that country in response to 9/11.

All of us have an obligation to speak out. We may come from different backgrounds and faiths -- but parents the world over love our children. We respect our mothers, our sisters and daughters. Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity -- a commitment shared by people of good will on every continent. Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment. Yet the terrorists who helped rule that country now plot and plan in many countries. And they must be stopped. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.
The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.

Except, that is, when the rights and dignity of women conflict with the prerogatives of the Saudi Royal family. Then, apparently, women are on their own.

Or to put it another way, "W" Stand for Women... except when he doesn't.


Anonymous said...

Check this out, rape victims can be treated the same way in the US - if the rapist is a policeman, police informant or government official.