I have posted, below, my take on Rami Khouri’s radiant vision of a transformed Arab world. Now let us turn to the United Arab Emirates, among the most prosperous and freewheeling corners of the Middle East: specifically, to the emirate of Ras Al Khaima, which according to its promotional website “remains a peaceful Emirate in which to live and work.”
The emirate has witnessed massive development in recent years and is now a modern emirate with international schools, hospitals and amenities. However, distinguishing it from other emirates is its distinctive local culture.
To quote Glenn Reynolds: indeed. The emirate’s distinctive local culture has judged that an Indonesian housemaid, a guest worker, will suffer the weight of the law to the tune of 150 lashes. Her crime: “getting pregnant while unmarried.” The seriousness of the offense was aggravated by her refusal to name the father of the child, so that he too could be dealt with distinctively. The punishment will be delivered in two stages, apparently after the child is born and weaned; then the poor woman will be deported.
I don’t know what 150 lashes feels like. I’m not sure, either, of what the limits of human endurance may be. But when I come across a report of this kind, I despair of Khouri’s vision of the Arab future. These aren’t Baathists or Islamic theocrats: they are local worthies enforcing sharia law, and crushing that unhappy housemaid under the weight of a cruel but widespread tradition.
Those who wish to promote freedom in that part of the world must take on the peaceful, distinctive emirate of Ras Al Khaima, and stop this vile thing from happening.