Five Saudi men sentenced to 32 years in prison and 4,500 lashes for hosting Valentine’s Day party with ‘unrelated women, drinking and dancing’

Five Saudi men sentenced to 32 years in prison and 4,500 lashes for hosting Valentine’s Day party with ‘unrelated women, drinking and dancing’

  • The men were arrested by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice
  • All five have admitted the charges from illegal seclusion with unrelated women, dancing and drinking dancing
  • A judge will decide the fate of the six women who are caught along with the men

Five Saudi men have been sentenced to 32 years in prison and 4,500 lashes by a criminal court in Saudi Arabia for hosting a Valentine’s Day celebration.

The law-breaking men were imprisoned in a rented retirement home in the Al-Farouq area of Province of Buraidah Qassim and accused of partying with women not related to them, drinking and dancing.

Police Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) gathered the men using security patrols for their transgressions along with six women on February 14.

Banned: Saudi men were banned from using camera phones for a while for fear that men would use them to secretly photograph women and publish them on the Internet without the subjects’ consent

The men have all admitted to the charges, which include illegal solitary confinement with unrelated women, dancing and drinking.

A judge decides the fate of the six women.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is the religious police or mutaween (meaning pious) of the Saudi Arabian government to enforce Sharia law within the Islamic nation.

In total, it has 3,500 to 4,000 police officers who enforce a strict religious code among the citizens.

Members patrol the streets, checking dress codes, strict segregation of men and women, salat prayers by Muslims during prayer times, and other behaviors they believe are imposed by Islam.

The mutaween (CPVPV) to be known for having full beards and wearing their headscarves (ghutrah or shemagh) loosely without agal and are often from the lower classes of Saudi Arabia.

The body has widespread powers to detain and harass offenders and shut down andd be directly employed by the King. The organization’s budget for 2013 was the equivalent of US$390 million.

In a special case Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger recently found guilty of violating authorities and facing 10 years in prison, a thousand lashes and a fine of one million riyals for “insulting Islam.”

Mr Badawi’ was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cybercrime and disobedience to his father – a crime in Saudi Arabia – in connection with his Saudi Liberal Network website.

According to Human Rights Watch, the site featured articles criticizing prominent religious figures such as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.

He was initially given seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but an appeals court overturned that sentence and ordered a new trial.

Amnesty International called the new sentence “outrageous” and called Badawi a “prisoner of conscience”. His website has been shut down since his first trial.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: King employs religious police to enforce behavior that violates strict Islamic rule

'Prisoner of conscience': Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

King Abdullah: The King employs a religious police force to enforce behavior that violates strict Islamic rule and this has even affected bloggers such as Raif Badawi, who faces a 10-year prison term for insulting Islam

Citizens of Saudi Arabia are constantly encouraged to inform others who break the law.

The punishment for many offenses is severe, often involving beatings and humiliation, and foreigners are not excluded from arrest.

THE STRICT SHARIA LAW THAT SHOULD NOT BE BROUGHT IN SAUDI ARABI

tThe government-backed mutaween patrol the country to ensure that the laws are followed:

  • they prevent the population from getting involved in ‘frivolous’ western customs like valentine’s day
  • They ensure that no drugs, including alcohol, are traded
  • They check that women wear the abaya, a traditional all-encompassing black cloak
  • They ensure that men and women who are spotted together in public are related
  • They keep women from smoking in public
  • A ban on camera phones was enacted in 2004, but it was overturned again that same year
Middle East ally: David Cameron receives an honor from King Abdullah.  Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the West in the Middle East, has a long history of suppressing free speech

Middle East ally: David Cameron receives an honor from King Abdullah. Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the West in the Middle East, has a long history of suppressing free speech

Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International, urged Saudi authorities to overturn the conviction of blogger Badawi.

“The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes is outrageous,” he said.

Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the West in the Middle East, has a long history of suppressing free speech.

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