Aug 302010

Last week I blogged that a Saudi Arabian court was considering snapping a defendant’s spinal cord, which is justified under Sharia law.   The posting initiated several private discussions with friends and colleagues regarding the acceptance of Sharia law under international law.

I follow a variety of developments in international law ranging from political issues to business law to human rights, but at some point these spheres intersect.   I am often conflicted about the intersection, and to what degree human rights concerns should effect international business/political relations.  This concern is certainly not unique, and papers/articles on these issues have been written/dissected ad nauseam.

One of my biggest intrigues is whether countries practicing strict Islamic law will evolve into more open, less rigid, and less violent systems of justice.  And in the meantime, how should other nations, businesses, general society, and international organizations confront Sharia law?

I am going to do something unusual by linking the Washington Post’s blog on faith.  Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt, discusses whether “Sharia law [is] reconcilable with modernity.”

I am linking neither to join the political discussion on constructing a Mosque near the site of the World Trade Center nor to create a discussion on the validity of Islamic beliefs.  Instead, I wish to highlight Mr. Gomma’s argument concerning Sharia law as I try to process it against the reality of how Sharia law is practiced in Islamic nations.

What are your thoughts?

Aug 232010

… Maybe if you live in the Middle East.

I could easily focus this blog on human rights issues.  Just flipping through the today’s paper I read about rising homicide rates in Venezuela and mass rape in the Republic of Congo.  However, it was the following story that grabbed my attention.

Two years ago, a Middle Eastern man attacked one of his countrymen with a meat cleaver, leaving him paralyzed and causing the amputation of a foot.  The attacker has been arrested, tried and found guilty.  His punishment?


The crime occurred in Saudi Arabia, and under Islamic Sharia law, which allows “eye for an eye” types of punishment.  So, you cause paralysis, you get paralyzed.

The Saudi Arabian government is consulting area hospitals to find one that is willing to sever the defendant’s spinal cord.   Human rights activists are protesting the potential punishment; however, the punishment is indicative of the rationale behind Islamic law.

This punishment would violate numerous faucets of international law, including the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

This story is starting to get significant media attention, and it is possible that a global outcry would persuade Saudi Arabian government to forego this particular punishment.  However, it does not diminish the daily human rights abuses occurring in the Middle East under Islamic Law.  At some point international human rights must be given greater urgency and force Middle Eastern countries to evolve their ancient sense of justice.

You can read the full story here.