Beneath the flogging

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Saudi Arabia’s decision to remove flogging as a form of capital punishment. It is an impressive step forward for a country so steeped in tradition. That said the fight for modern society’s human rights in Saudi Arabia is far from over. The biggest challenges for Saudi Arabia in modernizing their legal practices so that they are more in line with the rest of the, Western, world. And are according to its political and societal customs.

Due to the political system of Saudi Arabia it is an impressive choice. Which crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to remove flogging as a form of capital punishment. The country maintains what essentially amounts to a traditional monarchy. That is to say the King or his representatives have the authority to create and enforce the laws. It is a different setup of then the few monarchies that remain in Western Europe such as Great Britain or Denmark. Using Great Britain as an example, while technically the reigning monarch has the right to create laws or declare war.

Role of royal family in politics :

In such practice decisions usually fall on the House of Lords in the House of Commons. In addition, without the support of these houses of government such actions could not be enforced. As in other words, the monarchy in Britain is essentially a figurehead with very little real authority. The reverse is true for Saudi Arabia were the majority of political power resides with the King. Crown Prince, and the numerous other members of the Royal family. Historically speaking strong monarchies always use capital punishments as a means to maintain their authority, especially against individuals or activists who threatened that authority.

Saudi Arabia’s culture is very different than other modern societies in some of the laws they enforce. In that what they considered a crime and what punishment can be used are very different. In many modern countries for example adultery or extramarital sex, while frowned upon by some, is not considered a crime. Whereas in Saudi Arabia it is considered an offense on par with grand larceny at the very least. Another difference is the viewpoint on voicing your personal opinion.

Cultural difference from the west :

While in some countries it is a guaranteed right with Saudi Arabia it is not necessarily so. Speaking your mind on various subjects, for example religion could be treated as a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, especially if it wasn’t a popular opinion. Such was the case for Saudi blogger Raif Badawiwho was imprisoned for 10 years and 1000 lashes after he was found guilty of insulting Islam. Whereas a similar situation for example in the United states either had been ignored for the very worst required a public apology.

While the crown prince should be applauded for removing flogging as a punishment from the legal system. It has not ended the human rights struggle. There are still other forms of capital punishment used to punish what would be considered minor offenses by other societies. What needs to be focused on for long-lasting human rights improvements in Saudi Arabia is a shift both politically and socially, in what is viewed as appropriate punishment for a crime and also what constitutes a crime. Without those two changes it could be that removing flogging will only be a minor achievement.

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