1.Saudi court sentences 75-year-old woman to lashes
A 75-year-old widow was sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in prison for mingling with two young men who were reportedly bringing her bread.
Khamisa Sawadi, who is Syrian but was married to a Saudi, was convicted and sentenced last week for meeting with men who were not her immediate relatives. The two men, including one who was Sawadi's late husband's nephew, were also found guilty and sentenced to prison terms and lashes. (AP)
2.Rising Criticism of Child Bride Marriages in Saudi Arabia
By: Y. Admon*
The Saudi press has lately been discussing the custom of child bride marriage, especially cases of middle-aged or elderly men taking prepubescent girls for their wives. The religious justification for this custom, which has been prevalent in Saudi Arabia and in many Muslim societies since the early Islamic era, is that the Prophet Muhammad married his wife 'Aisha when she was only six years old.
Recent press reports on child bride marriage in Saudi Arabia sparked a wave of criticism among columnists and social activists, who called for abolishing the custom and for setting a minimum age for marriage in Saudi law. In response, on November 24, 2008, the Saudi Shura Council passed a resolution setting the legal age of majority at 18. However, the council refrained from explicitly defining this as the minimum age for marriage, reflecting the difficulty it faces in confronting this well-entrenched practice.
At the same time, the council's resolution leaves room for hope that the religious law permitting child marriages may be amended. It should be noted that at least two religiously based practices have been previously changed in Saudi Arabia. The first is slavery. In 1962, King Faisal bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz issued a decree "abolishing all [forms of] slavery" and freeing all the slaves in the kingdome. The second is the Jizya (the poll tax on non-Muslims), which is no longer enforced in the kingdom.
The following is a reviews some of the recent press reports about underage marriage, the views of clerics who have addressed this custom, the efforts of various human rights organizations to combat it, and articles by Saudi columnists condemning this practice.
To view the full dispatch, visit http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA50209.
3.Interviewer: "Are you for or against sex before marriage?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "I'm for it."
Interviewer: "But all religions forbid this."
Rami 'Aleiq: "I think that the way this issue is viewed is subject to social development, and religions need to be aware of social developments."[...]
"We Would Have Sex With Prostitutes For 500 Syrian Lira per Half Hour... In Islam... A Girl Is Mature from the Age of Nine... I Was a Child, and So Was She... I Was Not Allowed to Touch Her" Without Contracting a Pleasure-Marriage
Interviewer: "[In your book,] you write: 'When I went on trips, I used to go secretly with several young friends to the Al-Marja neighborhood in Damascus. We would go to a hotel in order to have sex with prostitutes for 500 Syrian liras per half hour.' To justify this, you write: 'None of us would make physical contact with the girl he chose before signing a formal pleasure-marriage contract with her.' Isn't marriage meant to be out of pure intentions? Weren't you conning God this way?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "You're right. Pleasure-marriage means conning God, as well as ourselves. I am against this way of relating to sex and to women.
"This is something that still goes on. It is wrong."
Interviewer: "Back then you were an observant Shiite Muslim from Hizbullah, weren't you?"
Rami 'Aleiq nods.
Interviewer: "How did you ever dare to sign a pleasure-marriage contract with a nine-year-old girl?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "In our culture, in order to be able to touch a girl or a woman, there must be a contract of pleasure-marriage."
Interviewer: "We are talking about a nine-year-old girl..."
Rami 'Aleiq: "Sure. In Islam, and this is what we were taught, a girl is mature from the age of nine. This is true with regard to Sunnis as well as Shiites. You are focusing on Shia Islam, because I am a Shiite, but according to religious jurisprudence, a girl is mature at the age of nine. This is where we got this idea. I was a child, and so was she, so I was not allowed to touch her, if I didn't form with her the kind of relation that permitted this."