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26 November, 2009

Our Esteemed Ally, the Executioner of Sorcerers.

Human Rights Watch sent this gem to my inbox today:


(Kuwait City) - The cassation court in Mecca should overturn the death sentence imposed on Ali Sabat by a lower court in Medina on November 9 for practicing witchcraft, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the Saudi government to cease its increasing use of charges of "witchcraft" which remains vaguely defined and arbitrarily used....

"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The crime of ‘witchcraft' is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state-sanctioned executions."

I did not realize that witchcraft was still an issue in need of state intervention. Was it naive to think that humanity left this behind four centuries ago?

Perhaps it was: Saudi Arabia is a land that exists outside the normal course of history. Arabia is ruled by a monarchy of the medieval cast. While common knowledge, it bears repeating: Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Few governments have so brilliantly succeeded in snuffing out the liberties of its subjects as have the Saudis. It is a challenge to find a society more backwards than theirs.

This includes Iran. There are few crimes the Iranians have committed that the Saudis have not matched. Human rights abuse for human rights abuse, the two stand equal by most measures of oppression.

They are equals in barbarity, but not in standing. One is the subject of sanctions, restrictions, and ridicule. The other is the beneficiary of global goodwill. One has been completely cut away from America. The other's diplomats are offered many a place in Washington's smoke-filled backrooms. One is an enemy. The other is an ally. Quite curious is the United State's foreign policy!

America has a penchant for asking other great powers to take a firm line with illicit regimes. "If only Russia, China, and India would cooperate", we say, "then Burma, North Korea, and Iran would never be problems." Do we expect this rhetoric to be taken seriously? Are we so conceited as to imagine that the United States can cajole the world into pressuring rogue states who dislike America into submission while offering patronage to the oppressive regimes who seem to fancy us?

Remember the sentence of Ali Sabat. He shall die for committing sorcery. To my fellow Americans, this citizen must ask: is this what we stand for? We speak of spreading American values. Do we mean the values of Salem, '92?

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