IN THE WRONG COMPANY
ALL ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS
On 2 August 1990, Iraqi troops crossed the border into Kuwait. The Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, claimed that his military presence in Kuwait was not an offensive nor was it an invasion. According to Saddam, history made the incursion justified since back in the days when Iraq was part of the Babylonian Empire, Kuwait or at least the territory designated as the modern-day country of Kuwait was part of Babylonia and therefore, part of Iraq.
Like looters during natural disasters or riots, the Iraqi military and civilians looted, robbed, destroyed, plundered and pillaged stores, residences and political buildings with a vengeance that only the deprived could muster.
The world was shocked or at least distressed enough to form a coalition that ultimately, on 24 February 1991 until 28 February of the same year, rolled into Kuwait, drove out the Iraqis, and liberated Kuwait.
Back then, I remember thinking how odd that the world cheered as if the great democracy of Kuwait was freed from the tyrant, Saddam Hussein—that great democracy where women were not allowed to drive. That is not to say that polite people have the right to simply waltz into a neighboring country and claim it as their own. But that’s another story.
Unfortunately, that kind of oppression is still going on in Saudi Arabia. Women are still not allowed to drive, even though there is nothing in the Koran nor in any Islamic law that prohibits women from getting behind the wheel. Yes, yes, I know, when the Koran was written there were no cars. Women, however, were permitted to ride on donkeys or camels. But again, that’s another story.
The irony here is that there are many other laws in Saudi Arabia that call for the beheading of women for promiscuity and adultery, while beatings and stonings are common for women who, in the eyes of clerics, have disobeyed their husbands, brothers or fathers.
Recently, Saudi women have taken to the roads again and risked punishment which, if the movement hadn’t gone viral, would probably have been subjected to some form of brutality for their rebellion.
Actually this latest act of rebellion was not the first time women dared to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. It happened in 1990 and in 1991, coincidentally at the same time that Kuwait had been invaded and subsequently liberated. Those Saudi women who started the driving revolution were arrested, fired from their jobs, and attacked by name by clerics during their weekly sermons. Today, the consequences are less dire with fines of $80 issued to those women who dare to accelerate through Riyad and other Saudi cities. In fact, the law is so ludicrous that the reasons given for this ban on women behind the wheel sound absurd even to the more moderate Saudi citizens.
Religious extremists claim that women who drive risk becoming sterile or risk being abducted. Frankly, if these extremists were really honest, they would admit that giving a woman a modicum of freedom where she can get around town on her own wheels is a threat to the sexual segregation that is the foundation of Saudi society.
But let’s forget the driving question for the moment. Let’s see who are the twenty-nine countries with whom we are in bad company beginning with the death penalty:
Afghanistan, Bahamas, Belarus, Botswana, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guatamala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Suraname, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vietnam, and Yemen.
To be accurate, the Bahamas, Cuba, South Korea, Russia, Suraname, Tajiskistan, and Tongo have not used the death penalty in the last ten years or have issued a moratorium on its use.
And let’s see which countries who either hang, shoot, decapitate, stone, gas, electrocute, or use lethal injection can be considered our fuzzy friends. Guatamala, of course, where so many Americans take holiday, India, another holiday spot, Japan, our trading partner, Taiwan, a benign friend, and the United Arab Emirates with whom it behooves us to be nice.
There are other issues as well, beginning with abortion and women’s rights and perhaps including Sarah Palin’s latest rant about Christmas, but let’s just stop here and consider the following.
For the next category, it would be more simple to state which countries allow gay marriage: Beginning with the United States, only seventeen states recognize same-sex unions, as well as Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and most recently the American State of Hawaii.
Of all the countries that perform gay marriage and all the countries that still use the death penalty, guess what? The United States (only seventeen of the states actually) are listed in both categories.
The one positive aspect when it comes to America is that more states are allowing gay marriage while less states are implementing the death penalty.
Recently, the media, however, has publicized the ridiculous law in Saudi Arabia about prohibiting women from driving.
My initial reaction was that soon Saudi women will be allowed to drive and will even be issued licenses while at the same time, women will be decapitated for what the government deems as disobedience, sexual transgressions and humiliating their male relatives.
As well, in the United States and throughout certain parts of the world, same-sex marriage will be denied to those men and women whose love does not conform with Sarah Palin’s idea about Christmas—to wit, the godless should stop worshipping pine trees and cute little decorations including make-shift mangers and get down to the real meaning of Christmas and the birth of Christ.
And speaking of Christ, the godless who oppose the death penalty are in the minority right here in the United States, as well as in the minority when it comes to allowing a woman’s right to choose.
The media, however, has chosen to publicize the ridiculous law in Saudi Arabia about prohibiting women from driving. My initial reaction was that soon Saudi women will be allowed to drive and will even be issued licenses while at the same time, women will be decapitated for what the government deems as disobedience, sexual transgressions and humiliating their male relatives.
The bottom line of this BLOG is that our global priorities are somewhat out of order and we, according to our politicians, the greatest democracy in the world, have somehow gone amuck when it comes to international human rights.
As for the media, of which I was once a working member, reporters should focus on those issues which are either life or death or impede basic human rights instead of issues of simple transportation, which should probably be put several notches down on the list of our priorities.