The Washington Post‘s correspondent in Saudi Arabia files this report on the case of the ‘Qatif Girl’ and her attorney’s fight against the system. There’s nothing new in the article, but it fairly summarizes what’s happened to date.
Rights Advocate Fights Back
Faiza Saleh Ambah
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 28 — A human rights lawyer who has defended a gang-rape victim sentenced to jail time and lashes said Wednesday that he is suing the Justice Ministry for revoking his license and for defaming his client by accusing her of having an affair.
Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem’s license was suspended this month in the eastern town of Qatif, where his client was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes on a morals charge after she and a male companion were kidnapped by seven men and raped.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement last week that the 20-year-old married woman had “confessed to having an affair with the man she was caught with.” The statement also said she was not fully clothed when she and her male companion were seized at knifepoint.
“The Justice Ministry’s accusing my client of adultery, without proof, is illegal. It is a crime, and they, better than anyone else, should know that,” Lahem said. “I am suing them to protect my client’s honor and because no one, including the Justice Ministry, should be above the law.”
The Saudi National Human Rights Association, a government-financed group, has requested an explanation for the revocation of Lahem’s license by the Qatif court.
“We are questioning the legality of them taking his permit,” said Saleh al-Khathlan, a member of the group. “We are hoping that this is not a reaction to his being so active in the field of human rights and his criticisms of the system, and that they’re not trying to punish him for being so outspoken.”