Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Australian, 45, Sentenced to Receive 500 Lashes, One Year in Prison for Blasphemy

Mansor Almaribe, 45, an Australian citizen, who was detained in the city of Medina (Saudi Arabia) on November 14, while making the hajj pilgrimage and accused of insulting companions of the prophet Mohammed, has reportedly been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in jail by a Saudi Arabian court after being found guilty of blasphemy.

COMMENT: Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (http://www.www.dfat.gov.au) has reported that Mansor Almaribe was sentenced on Tuesday (November 6); the Australian ambassador has also been in touch with Saudi authorities to plead for leniency. Almaribe was initially sentenced to a two-year jail term which was subsequently reduced to one year.

If Almaribe is truly a compliant and devoted Muslim, he should have been cognizant of prevailing penalties. Even though Almaribe reportedly had the resources to make the Hajj pilgrimage, during his trial he reportedly did not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney and under Saudi law, he has no right to a lawyer.

Almaribe is the father of five and reportedly suffers from both diabetes and heart disease. If the 500 lashes stand and are carried out, it is doubtful that Almaribe could survive such an ordeal.

Australian consular officials were denied access to Almaribe because in Medina non-Muslims cannot enter the city.

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