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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two laws

"Man to be lashed for illicit relations," proclaimed the Gulf Times in big letters this morning. The court "awarded 100 lashes to a Turkish man (30) after it found him guilty of illicit relations with a Filipina housemaid (38). The court also ordered to deport both the accused immediately. The woman, being a Christian was spared of the lashes..."(Gulf Times December 21).

Qatar has Sharia law (i.e. Islamic law). However, as in the example above, the full consequences of this law applies only to Muslims. Nor is the law applied as severely as in Saudi Arabia. While the death sentence is handed down, in practice it is almost always commuted by the Emir. Furthermore, while being drunk in public is illegal and will result in a lashing for Muslims, residents (including Muslims) are allowed to purchase alcohol (if they possess a permit) to be consumed at home, and to drink alcohol in hotels and licensed clubs. Unlike Saudi Arabia, amputation is not allowed by law.

I've also been told the lashing is not as severe as it is in Saudi Arabia. It does not take place in a public place, and Qataris have told me that the person administrating the punishment must keep his arm - from shoulder to elbow - by his side. Some consolation, perhaps, for the Turkish man who has just lost his job, residence permit - and girlfriend.

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