Elderly Saudi Woman Sentenced to 40 Lashes

Posted on March 12, 2009

A 75 year-old Saudi woman has been sentenced to forty lashes for the crime of allowing a bread deliveryman into her home when she had no other male family members there with her. The woman is actually Syrian, but was married to a Saudi national and is now a widow. The young delivery man was well-known to the woman, but her breach of the insanely repressive laws in Saudi Arabia has earned her what might turn out to be a death sentence.
The newspaper Al-Watan said the woman met with the two 24-year-old men last April after she asked them to bring her five loaves of bread at her home in al-Chamil, a city north of the capital, Riyadh. Al-Watan identified one man as Fahd al-Anzi, the nephew of Sawadi's late husband, and the other as his friend and business partner Hadiyan bin Zein. It said they were arrested by the religious police after delivering the bread. The men also were convicted and sentenced to lashes and prison.

The court said it based its ruling on "citizen information" and testimony from al-Anzi's father, who accused Sawadi of corruption. "Because she said she doesn't have a husband and because she is not a Saudi, conviction of the defendants of illegal mingling has been confirmed," the court verdict read.

Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling. It also bars women from driving, and the playing of music, dancing and many movies also are a concern for hard-liners who believe they violate religious and moral values.
There has been an international outcry over the case, but so far the Saudi government has not intervened to save the woman. If the sentence is allowed to stand, she will suffer forty lashes (which could be fatal to an elderly woman), then imprisoned for four months, then deported to Syria. The entire case is absolutely appalling.