An article appeared several hours ago that brings forth questions. The Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/03/saudi-execution-call-for-west-to-condemn-killing-of-shia-cleric), gives several causes for concern. The first one is in the title ‘Saudi execution: call for west to condemn killing of Shia cleric‘, why? The subtitle ‘UK Treasury minister describes the killing of Nimr al-Nimr as a ‘worrying development’ as tensions escalate‘ is cause for additional concern. In my (simplistic) viewpoint, why is David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury speaking here (read: quoted)? Why is this not voiced by the UK foreign office (and the Home office for that matter)? THEY are spokespeople in this case, well the Foreign Office more than the Home Office in this case, but the home office would be voicing the ‘home front’ feelings. No, it is the financial secretary to the Treasury, whose voice does not count in this situation that is the view that is voiced.
You see, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation where the use of capital punishment is based on Shari’ah (or Islamic law). I did not study Shari’ah Law and as such I cannot answer the legality in this, but Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation with its own set of laws and it is time for people to start understanding that other cultures have other rules and laws. For me, I am still amazed on how capital punishment is not in existence in Commonwealth Law, in addition, I am amazed how targeted killing is still not a legal option, an absence I still believe is more an act of cowardice than anything else (I will address this part later in this article).
So Saudi Arabia has the death penalty, this is not new, it is a given. Yet, what people seem to forget is that when you look deeper into Islamic Banking and Finance that this system is not greed driven, that what is regarded as Sharia compliant finance. It approached the view where Sharia prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money, whether the payment is fixed or floating, which as I understand it implies any excess compensation without due consideration (absent of time value of money), which implies (without deeper investigation, cannot be stated as for certain by me) that the hedge funds nightmare that Wall Street bestowed upon the world would never have happened under Shari’ah Law, I will let you contemplate that thought by yourself!
Let’s get back to capital punishment! When we look at an article by Elizabeth Peiffer (at http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1132&context=wmjowl), we see the following on page 508 (page 3 of the article), “The harsh punishments required for hudud crimes are intended to deter those who might commit crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society“, in additional support there is something I should add from the Catholic Education Resource Center (at http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/social-justice/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment.html), where we see “At no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment. In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die” (Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10, referring to Exodus 2l:17; cf. Leviticus 20:9)“, in addition I offer “The last case of an execution by the Catholic Church was that of the schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll, accused of deism by the waning Spanish Inquisition and hanged to death 26 July 1826 in Valencia after a two-year trial” (at http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/805877-196/daily-twip—the-spanish-inquisition-executes.html).
We seem to impose ‘our’ values on every nation, yet we do not take responsibility or repair the damage we allow others to make under either a Christian or atheist guise, how just is that?
Let’s get back to the issue that started all this, you see Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was sentenced to death. The BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29627766) gives us “he was found guilty of seeking “foreign meddling” in the kingdom, “disobeying” its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces“, ‘taking up arms against the security forces’ could be seen as insurrection at best and treason at worst, when I point back to the issue shown in the article by Elizabeth Peiffer we get ‘intended to deter those who might commit crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society’, is that not the case for both insurrection and treason? Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was himself a cleric, so how was the consequence a surprise? Because he was regarded as ‘popular among youth’? The sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia has a set of laws, this is known, so again, why do we read that David Gauke sees this as a ‘worrying development’? Shouldn’t the man be playing with an abacus and solving the UK economy issues (the UK has plenty of those)? In addition, he represents South West Hertfordshire, which is part of Hertfordshire, where less than 1% is Muslim, a county where 90% is either Christian or has no religion (27.3%), so again, what gives, personal interest or unofficial messenger?
The blunt cold issue is that a cleric went against the established order and Shari’ah Law intervened directly and definitively, which I admit is my rather simplistic view on the matter.
In an age where culling over 30% of the planets population could solve food issues, housing issues and several other issues, we seem to embrace the solution that does not get us anywhere. Now it is time to get back to an earlier statement and explain my reasoning. In our day and age, capital punishment should not be seen as a bad thing, we should see this as the ultimate form of accountability. Consider the News in Brisbane where “Cole Miller, 18, was allegedly struck in the head from behind as he walked with a friend through the Chinatown Mall about 3.35am yesterday (AEST)” (at http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/01/03/07/16/young-man-randomly-king-hit-while-walking-through-brisbane-mall-overnight). Why not ‘reward’ Armstrong Renata and Daniel Maxwell with the death penalty for such a cowardly attack? I feel certain that after a few of these executions teens will get hit in the head from behind a lot less. Why was he attacked in the first place? That is still for a court to decide, but too often and for too long the victim and its family gets to suffer whilst the courts ‘go soft’ too often on the transgressors and it is not because there are so many jobs or there are so many apartments available. As stated, it is for a court to decide and there is of course the need for evidence, because we know how it ended, but how did it get started? I do not have the facts, but that is an important element in Common Law, I am just no longer willing to see that the abolishment of capital punishment is a good idea.
I also mentioned cowardice earlier, for this I need to address the issue of targeted killing. You see, the law as is seems to revere ‘non-permanent’ solutions. In all that people are faced with dangers and risks. Consider that 70% lives in a legal way, no crimes committed, now we get 29.9991% that does have a criminal side, for that we have the law, I do not oppose this, they are criminals of all kinds, from pickpockets, to robbers to murderers, for those we have the law. There is a very small group, 0.0009%, this group is so malignant, so violent (read: extremely fanatic or terrorist), that their presence is a direct threat to the people and to our way of life. In all this, we ‘hide’ behind Common Law and its settings, like it is a Golden Calf (I am referring here to Exodus 32:1–6), how dare we revere a book to that level whilst knowingly endangering the people we swore to protect, are those victims in that same view not degraded to simple human sacrifices for the existence of a book of rules? How can we sacrifice those lives and are we not willing to take the lives who are knowingly and intentionally threatening those innocent (and some less innocent) lives? Are we not bound to protect the people in any accountable way we possibly can? It is the word accountable that should have opened the door to targeted killing a long time ago, I am not referring to 9/11; I am referring to events even before that. To the days of Baader Meinhoff and the Rote Armee Fraktion. Italy had the Red Brigade, Japan the Red Army and that list goes on for a while. We seem to focus on Islamic groups, yet we forget that the Ku Klux Klan, White Power groups as Christian groups and most other religions have their terrorist organisations, groups with members focused on extreme violence against a specific group or a nation in general, as such, when that government has a direct responsibility to keep its citizens safe, where is the logic to not pursue these extremists with all options, including terminal ones?
So by what standard are we judging?
We seem to push our standards onto others, whilst in most western European nations we have only succeeded in making a bigger mess, whilst not holding anyone accountable for anything, as I see it, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr decided on a course of action, here (Australia, UK, Canada, sometimes the US too) we all believe in freedom of speech, yet In Islamic nations there seems to be an interpretation that ‘crimes that are dangerous to an Islamic society‘ are strictly dealt with by holding that person accountable. Please consider that I am voicing a view based on the ‘facts’ as I see it published, I am not stating on the ruling of the specific court case of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr as I do not have all the facts on that case. And consider again, why is the voice of David Gauke quoted and not from the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP? In this case it is his voice as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs that sets the tone of how we as a Commonwealth (read: United Kingdom) shall deal with our allies, our connected nations and our enemies, not David Gauke. In Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stated today that the Australian government is deeply disturbed by Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of 47 people that same approach was taken by Canada where Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion condemns Saudis over Mass Execution (including the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr). So why did the article by Martin Chulov not mention the big names from Canada and Australia within that article? OK, in all fairness, the response from Julie Bishop was only voiced a few hours ago, but the Canadian voice was given yesterday, plenty of time to include that one, it seems to me that the article is about careful ‘voicing’ what does not really matter for the political field that becomes a lot less maneuverable over the coming year, another fact conveniently ignored.
All this regarding the standard a sovereign nations holds. We might not agree and we can voice that, but we must equally accept that every nation has its own rights in dealing with transgressors, even if we are too unwilling to do this ourselves. Consider that hypocrisy is knowingly not practicing what you tell others to do (like having just laws against crime and for victims), now consider that Irony is becoming a judge after illustrating the failure of law.
So is this a mere case of Hypocritical Irony?