Thursday, December 08, 2011

Australian Man Sentenced to 500 Lashes and Jail For Blasphemy In Saudi Arabia

So 45-year-old Australian Mansor Almaribe took the mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca this past November to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam. Every good Muslim is expected to take that trek (Hajj) at least once in his/her lifetime as long as he/she is physically able to, and can afford to spend those 6 days away from home.

Now, one would think as a devout Muslim (and he appears to be if you look at the photo of his hijab-covered daughter) that this would be the highlight of his spiritual life, but his journey to Mecca turned out to be a nightmare when he was arrested in Medina for, of all things, blasphemy.  He was accused of  "...insulting companions of the prophet Mohammed", whatever the heck that means, since no-one is acknowledging what exactly it was that he said or did to warrant being charged.  But Almaribe was arrested by those infamous religious virtue and vice police on November 14th while reading and praying with a group of other pious ones. Perhaps he was the 'wrong kind' of Muslim, which can land you in trouble in any Muslim-majority country, but I can't begin to imagine what else it might be, since he was doing what all good Muslims do, praying. 

So, for all his efforts to fulfill one of his Islamic duties, traveling almost 8,000 miles from Shepparton, Victoria  to Makkah, Almaribe was just sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in jail. Originally, he was to spend 2 years in prison, but out of the kindness of  the Saudi court's heart the sentence was reduced to a mere one year for this terrible thing he said or did that was deemed blasphemous.

The father of five (from 2 to 24) has some major health issues and his family doesn't " think he'd survive 50."  Apparently the Australian Embassy will try to intercede on his behalf.  Good luck with that.

I wonder what he thinks of Saudi Arabia and his religion now?

Sources:  The Australian, BBC

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