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November 22, 2006

Suthers' "Arabian Nights" Accomplishes Little, Trip Meant To Justify US Justice System

Could AG John Suthers' recent trip to Saudi Arabia, to defend the fair conviction of Homaidan Al-Turki, be politically costly?

Either way, his trip amounted to little more than an unpersuasive waste of money (Federal funds and King Abdullah footed the cost) on "relationship building" that did little to change minds here or there, and ultimately failed to rouse the Saudi kingdom from its 7th century mindset (video):

Attorney General John Suthers returned from Saudi Arabia this weekend following a 3-day trip to discuss the trial of a man convicted by a Colorado court.

Suthers said he was questioned aggressively by King Abdullah for 3 days about whether Homaidan Al-Turki was treated fairly when he was convicted in Arapahoe County of sexually assaulting an Indonesian maid and keeping her as a virtual slave in his Aurora home.

Suthers said Al-Turki comes from an influential religious family in Saudi Arabia and was portrayed in the media there as a victim.

"One of the brothers of the defendant that I had met sat through the trial and they simply cannot understand that a jury can give credibility to an Indonesian maid," Suthers said. "And the only possible explanation that is some sort of anti-Muslim bias."

The lack of credulity over the credibility of the Indonesian maid stems not from her social status as a maid, but from her status as a woman--something Sharia law does not recognize.

As for the United States "showing a great deal of respect" for the religious and political sensitivities of the Saudis, an authoritarian kingdom complete with religious police and without any semblance of religious tolerance for anyone outside of Islam; or "sending a message" that the United States does not apologize for its legal system where all are equal under the law and one's gender or status does not effect their ability to offer evidence, the trip was most likely a complete failure, aside from photo-ops and the sort of benefits that only political grandstanding can provide.

Apparently, Al-Turki's status in his own country would have provided the necessary legal defense in any case of impropriety--an "influential family" with the proper religious credentials. Infidel systems of justice are suspect simply because they do not account for Sharia-based legal assessment, substituting such irreligious documents as the United States Constitution.

What is disturbing is the sort of precedent a sitting state AG makes by personally defending an example of American justice to an intolerant and undemocratic state like Saudi Arabia. Will it be the policy for Colorado or any other state's AG to fly off to defend convictions any time a foreign national is found guilty of a crime? Is it primarily the importance of the regime in petroleum matters or the fact that it is a Muslim state that prompted no less than the State Department to help broker a meeting of Colorado's AG with the King of Saudi Arabia? What assurances, promises, explanations, excuses or other considerations were given? And since when does any part of our legal system have to justify itself to any higher authority, other than perhaps the Supreme Court at the state or national level?

Al-Turki showed no inclination towards remorse for his actions:

At his sentencing, Al-Turki said he would not apologize for "things I did not do and for crimes I did not commit."

"The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors," he told the judge. "Attacking traditional Muslim behaviors was the focal point of the prosecution."

Vincent Carroll voices the same reservations about having our AG defend the American justice system in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Posted by El Presidente at November 22, 2006 7:15 PM

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