Do you believe in the old biblical ideas of revenge and justice? You know an eye-for-an eye, a tooth for a nail and a life for a life. How do you feel though about paralysis for paralysis?
Ali al-Khawahir, 14, stabbed his friend in the back. The victim was left paralyzed from the attack and now, ten-years-later, Ali will be medically paralyzed as punishment. He can avoid the paralysis "punishment" if he pays 1m Saudi riyals, $250,000 or £177,000 in compensation to his victim.
If 24-year-old Ali does not, or cannot, pay the compensation awarded to his victim, he will be medically paralysed from the waist down. In other words he has to pay, if not in money in like for like injuries.
Ali's family are not rich. They have little money. Ali has been in jail for the last ten years so he has no paid work. The original compensation was twice as much but reduced.
Amnesty International has condemned the paralysis sentence and the British Foreign Office called it grotesque, reports the Guardian. The F.O. said: "We are deeply concerned by reports that a Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to be paralysed in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was 14 years old."We urge the Saudi authorities to ensure that this grotesque punishment is not carried out. Such practices are prohibited under international law and have no place in any society."
This is not the first time a sentence of paralysis has been doled out in Saudi Arabia, although it is not known if paralysis was carried out in a previous case.
A sentence of paralysis contravenes the UN convention against torture and the principles of medical ethics adopted by the UN general assembly, Amnesty said. A UN representative continued:"Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture. That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offences, as happens in Saudi Arabia."It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law."
Saudi courts regularly give out extreme sentences, extreme to we in the west that is. Eyes gouged out, hands and, or, feet amputated and teeth extracted are all par for the course. Flogging often accompanies these punishments. Judges have some discretionary powers and, in some cases, the victim can demand strict punishment or ask for leniency.
In such a culture is paralysis for paralysis a step too far?
There is so much wrong with this case, not least the monetary aspect. Whilst we can understand that money to ease the injured man's life could be useful, it means that the rich can escape punishment free. As a 14-year-old boy Ali was younger than the age of consent, at least in the west. He was a child, although in Saudi that may not be the case.
What truly stinks about this case and the many others in Saudi Arabia though is that the west "sucks up" to the Saudi regime. Early in March British royals, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, visited their royal friends in Saudi as part of a tour. The royal couple arrived a day after executions involving of seven young men. America is an, albeit uneasy, ally of Saudi Arabia.
Western leaders have been quick to climb on their soap boxes and condemn regimes in Libya and Syria but what of Saudi leaders?
Saudi Arabia is a vital western ally and as such that country's leaders are seldom condemned. The Briitish F.O. may have called the paralysis sentence grotesque but it will not act. At least for now, whilst Saudi is needed by the west, the country's terrible human rights record can continue.
More western hypocrisy?