Monday, November 26, 2007

Injustice Systems.

Three recent stories all from the Arab world:
  • Saudi Arabia- In a much publicised case a women was subjected to a gang rape. The Saudi sharia courts sentenced her to 90 lashes, when she appealed this sentence the judges increased her sentence to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison.
  • Egypt- A 47 year old Christian woman was sentenced to three years imprisonment for fraud. Her crime was that she filled out forms claiming to be a Christian, but the Egyptian law considers her a Muslim because her father converted to Islam when she was 2 years old before converting back to Christianity when she was 5. She has never practiced Islam.
  • Sudan- A 54 year old British teacher is in prison and could face several months inside for letting the children she teaches name a teddy bear "Muhammed". This is for some unexplained reason blasphemous.
The key function of a legal system is to provide a framework so that the population understands what sort of behaviour is likely to be unlawful and can adjust their actions accordingly. In all of these cases the law is used to punish people for things that no reasonable person could have avoided. Any system of law that is so opaque that it can ensnare those who have never tried to offend makes everybody in that society intensely vulnerable to those who control the judiciary. Sharia law isn't just an equal but different form of jurisprudence, it is a system tailer made for repression.

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