The New York Times’ Ben Hubbard on Tuesday wrote a glowing piece of puffery focused on Saudi Arabia, titled “Saudi Justice, Harsh but Able to Spare the Sword.” In it Mr. Hubbard admits that the kingdom’s harsh punishments, including beheadings and amputations, are based on the shariah (Islamic law) and are viewed as unchangeable and derived from Allah. But he still attempts to paint the system as merciful and some how possessing the equivalent of modern checks and balances.
He goes on to stress how rare such punishments are, even while citing the reality that Saudi Arabia in 2014, a country of almost 29 million people executed 88 people compared to the United States’ 35. But if Saudi Arabia had a U.S.-sized population (320 million) and the same ratio of execution, it would have executed 971 people. And that’s for a country which advertises a murder rate of .8, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.5. And of course not all executions in Saudi Arabia are for murder, considering that Saudi Arabia also executes apostates, homosexuals and “sorcerers.”
Despite this, Mr. Hubbard continues his effort to exonerate the Saudi slaughterhouse, noting efforts by organizations to acquire pardons, sometimes through the payment of blood money, a principle permitted under Islamic law. Mr. Hubbard cites Koran Sura 5:32, noting: “Many Muslims believe that saving a life, even that of a murderer, earns one rewards in heaven, so the possibility of a pardon by the victims’ heirs has opened a realm of activism aimed at stopping executions.”