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A visa or a life


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Executions in Riyadh are usually carried out at 9:00 a.m. in the morning with a shining steel sword hovering over the white shrouded figure about to receive it. Rizana Nafeek’s execution is reported to have taken place a little later than usual, at 11:40 a.m. Saudi time. Perhaps there were other punishments to be carried out first, perhaps the executioner who always takes his position to the left of the condemned, right leg forward and left leg back, was delayed in some way. Perhaps there was not enough of a crowd, or too much of one. The dusty details of the mid-morning of January 9, 2013 when Rizana Nafeek’s thin, dark neck met the executioner’s sword are never likely to be known.

Rizana Nafeek was a poor Muslim girl from a small village in Eastern Sri Lanka. Like hundreds of thousands of sweaty, hungry others eager for a visa and a job with a rich family in Saudi Arabia, she came to work in the country so she could change with dirhams the cycle of poverty that enslaved her family. The visa-clutching, future-fearing Pakistani men at Riyadh or Jeddah Airport could tell you the same story; of middle men paid and houses put up for collateral, of sisters dowries and parents operations Rizana Nafeek, like so many of the men and women who come to Saudi Arabia to do the jobs Saudis will not do, came ready to do anything to get and then keep her visa. To fit the age requirements she lied on her passport, growing in the minutes it took to fill the form, six years older than she was. Blessed with a Saudi work visa, Rizana Nafeek, the village girl became Rizana Nafeek, the Saudi maid in the household of Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Qutaibi, spending her days, cooking, cleaning and caring for the family’s children

Based on the murky facts only those who have lied to live would understand, Rizana Nafeek was just 17 on that fated afternoon of May 22, 2005 when catastrophe struck. It was 12:30 p.m. and she was bottle feeding the baby boy in her care while the mother of the child was away. Suddenly she noticed milk oozing from the mouth and nose of the infant. A terrified Rizana tried to soothe the baby stroking its back and throat and neck but within minutes the infant’s eyes closed. Later doctor’s reports would say that the infant had probably already passed away from a possible internal blockage in the stomach when Rizana noticed the streaming milk.

The infant’s life would not be the only one lost. At around 1:30 p.m. when Rizana’s employer, returned she began beating Rizana with shoes and slippers accusing the teenage maid of having killed the baby and bloodying her during the beating. For three days, Rizana endured the harangues of her distraught employers and on May 25, 2005 she was arrested for having murdered the baby. At the police station in Dawadmi, she was beaten with a belt so that she would confess to having killed the baby. After several hours of being struck, she confessed to the killing. She was not allowed to see any attorneys or anyone from the Sri Lankan Consulate until she confessed. The confession was in Tamil and the man who recorded it barely knew the language and so wrote it down in Arabic. No postmortem was carried out on the deceased child to determine the cause of death.

In the years of captivity following her arrest, and the near immediate death sentence that was imposed on her, Rizana Nafeek would state again and again that her confession had been obtained under the impact of a severe beating, but the cries of a hapless maid and a motley of human rights groups were not enough to change the mind of the Saudi officials and, as is the case with all condemned to execution, the maid was enshrouded, led outside into the sun and killed with a single swipe of the executioner’s sword.

On January 16 2013, just a week after Rizana’s neck met the sword, Pakistani Arshad Mohammad was also beheaded by Saudi authorities in the Eastern province of Khubar. He had been convicted for smuggling drugs but as with Rizana Nafik’s case few details are available regarding the evidence or the conviction. Like Sri Lanka, Pakistan exports labor to Saudi Arabia and in our job hungry, utilitarian calculus that prioritises visas over justice, Pakistan almost never raises the thorny issue of the injustices poured on its hordes of iqama clutching migrant workers. The logic is simple, a worker with a visa is worth more than one with a gripe, and a few murdered maids or menservants are a small price to pay for solid Saudi jobs. Everyone else seems to agree and because of this, not much can be expected for the three Pakistanis currently awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia or the hundreds of others frightened and forgotten inside Saudi prisons. In the hardscrabble calculations of labor export, the worth of a Saudi visa is more than that of a migrant worker life.


Rafia Zakaria is a columnist for DAWN. She is a writer and PhD candidate in Political Philosophy whose work and views have been featured in the New York Times,  Dissent the Progressive, Guernica, and on Al Jazeera English, the BBC, and National Public Radio. She is the author of Silence in Karachi, forthcoming from Beacon Press.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Author Image

Rafia Zakaria is an attorney and human rights activist. She is a columnist for DAWN Pakistan and a regular contributor for Al Jazeera America, Dissent, Guernica and many other publications.

She is the author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan (Beacon Press 2015). She tweets @rafiazakaria

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (152) Closed

Prof Albert Davies (UK) Jan 26, 2013 12:46pm
Anyone with an interest in history would know that the current ruling clan were actually a group of pirates looting the pilgrims enroute to the holy land. There is a deep culture of savagery there. One of the most avid consumers of Scotch Whiskey, yet they execute anyone else caught drinking. Speaking of Rizana's fate, the case of prince bander bin abdelaziz has not been forgotten who strangled his special-slave-servant in a knightsbridge hotel and applied to be released on the basis of royal diplomatic immunity
darr Jan 25, 2013 08:09pm
Every country has a right to make there own laws but all the human beings have a right for a fair and just trial.
Rashid Jan 26, 2013 05:26pm
Remember, Saudis are the decendants of the same tribe and inherits the same tribal culture that gave us our religion of peace.
Khalid Jan 26, 2013 05:10pm
I fully agree. The land of our prophet has been occupied by people who have sitting on lots of oil money and have been exploiting people from poor countries for decades. What we all have to also understand and appreciate is that Saudi Arabia has been providing employment to 100s of thousands of Pakistanis (and in turn their families) but not because they want to do Pakistanis any favours. It is purely because they can afford to employ people to do their dirty jobs. What I wonder is if Pakistan had so much money and we employed people from other poorer countries, would we have treated them any better?.
NASAH (USA) Jan 26, 2013 05:42pm
Isn't interesting -- a Muslim Pakistan's Dawn questions Saudi justice in beheading an underage Sri Lankan girl child for an infant's death most likely due to drowning in regurgitated milk due to acid reflux -- there's no mention of this beheading by the American 'Human Rights' press and the State Department! Bravo Dawn!
Amazed Jan 26, 2013 03:09am
Muslims need a Renaissance and I think their time is coming. This unfortunate event is making people think beyond religion.
abbastoronto Jan 26, 2013 08:53pm
Zaki Hassan Sahib: AOA Inhumanity has entered into Islam
Ahmer Jan 26, 2013 05:54pm
Very good article. Compare this with the respect and deference that Saudis show to their white workers.
Abdul Aziz Jan 26, 2013 08:38pm
Whar a shame this so young and so innocent girl sent to the gallows.May God in HIS goodness and mercy bless her soul and offer her a place in Heaven.
AA Jan 26, 2013 03:40pm
Only if she was white and of american/european origin...they would have let her walk away with murder of the entire family...heck americans would have forced the saudi king to pay blood money to the murdered family's relatives like they did for Raymond Davis...its a shame
Krish Chennai Jan 26, 2013 02:04pm
Dear Wajahat Saab, which people would you say "should stand against this" ? I worked for four years in the Gulf during the early 80s as a young man,and have lots of known people who worked in Saudi too. Simply put, it is one law for residents and another law for expatriates, and the justice system, whatever is there, comes down heavily on expatriates. I worked in a building materials and construction company, and befriended scores of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, but could never ever befriend a local. Even when I managed to get a driving license, the trainers wanted me to get them alcoholic beverages.
A. Khan Jan 26, 2013 09:48pm
Money talks and the sound of millions drowns out the cries of help of the poor.
omer khan shaheen Jan 26, 2013 04:14pm
Pakistan of tomorrow will put a stop to this.
abbastoronto Jan 26, 2013 10:26pm
For a PhD Candidate in political philosophy this mostly anecdotal piece was short on analysis and depth. Is Ms. Zakaria upset because the Saudi consider her Pakistani types to be sub-human, rather than her disagreement with their jurisprudence? No. Though there is no mention in the piece, I found evidence on the net in one of her talk in the US on Sharia that she seems to support it. (Google for it). In her talks (please correct me if wrong) Ms. Zakaria defined Sharia as a collective ummah effort to understand what Allah
Bill Cowdrey Jan 26, 2013 04:30am
Mr. Zaki Hasan commented that he finds injustice in Muslims. He is right. It is common for children/minors to work as servants in middle-class households and restaurants all over South Asia. I was an eyewitness to child-servants beaten for trivial and common infractions such as accidentally breaking a glass or a teacup in spite of the fact that breakage of china, glasses, and ceramics are routine in every household or business. The housewife or proprietor usually subtracts the price of the broken glass or teacup from their measly monthly income. These child-servants work from sunrise to midnight and not allowed the opportunity to obtain any education. This is how we Muslims treat our fellow helpless Muslims - like chattels and serfs
Ali Jan 26, 2013 10:52pm
Fair enough. I suppose one must also look at it from that perspective and account for what I would suspect is an indescribable loss for a mother. Nevertheless, be that as it may, 1) Where is the postmortem and why was it not carried out to ascertain guilt since this was a criminal case? 2) Why did the accused not get a defense counsel? 3) Why was the accused on physical remand and tortured into acquiescence? It is widely acknowledged that any admission of guilt or information disclosure obtained under hard duress has almost unanimously been faulty and more importantly wrong. Clearly, if the author can be relied upon to have her facts straight irrespective of her biased point of view; it is hardly a leap of faith to realize that the girl was presumed guilty as soon as the infant stop breathing without access to any justice for herself. I don't believe anyone here would condone the death of a child as a result of negligence and many there is a criminal aspect to it in terms of unintended homicide, however what I and I suspect many others clearly take exception to is the cavalier, not one of us, children of the lesser god kind of attitude that was on clear display in the Saudi (people of the book) system that led to her head being loped off.
abbastoronto Jan 26, 2013 10:38pm
Here is the Saudi Hierarchy. 1. White Americans 2. White Canadians 3. White English Europeans 4. White Non-English Europeans 5. Saudis 6. Arab Muslims 7. Non-Arab Muslims 8. Hindus/Sikhs 9. Chinese Asians 10. Blacks The first 4 are superior to the Arabs in they eyes, and they will never behead a superior. There is a Saudi proverb - if you can not cut a hand, kiss it, and there is no way they will dare cut the hand of first 4, so they kiss it.
Zafar Malik Jan 26, 2013 11:13pm
Japan has the lowest crime rate in the world with the horrible "Islamic" Punishments of KSA. In fact KSA is a blot on the name of Islam.
Mandeep Bal Jan 26, 2013 10:55pm
what a shame on saudia arab
abbastoronto Jan 26, 2013 11:19pm
Do not tell me that you did not know that Arabs will consider you as a slave, take away your passport, and do as they please. You could vote with your feet and walk away after the first year. But I suppose every one has a price, and the Arabs know it.
Zafar Malik Jan 26, 2013 11:23pm
Japan has the lowest crime rate in the world without the horrible "Islamic" punishments of KSA. in fact KSA is a blot on the name of Islam. There are many civilized ways to maintain order in a society. Those inhuman and barbaric punishments have no place in this modern world. What a shame.
shahdeeldar Jan 26, 2013 12:54pm
That is the problem!
Shah Deeldar Jan 26, 2013 12:52pm
Not all Muslims are equals! One's words are more important than others. I do not see any motives for the teenager to kill that Saudi baby. A total miscarriage of justice! She has lost her head for no good reason.
Khan Jan 25, 2013 11:51am
I have spent more then 7 years in Saudi Arab before I Migrated to Canada, not only labour but educated expatriates(foreign labour) face the same fate. Even we work in high profile jobs but law only favours Saudies... But never in 7 years either a Brit,US,Canada or Aust was behaded..they are let off or deported..its only for countries like ours who say we are brother country but treated like Step brother...
Aysha Jan 26, 2013 06:20am
I am just wondering if this article is a true picture of Islam?
shahdeeldar Jan 26, 2013 12:54pm
How and why?
Rashid Jan 26, 2013 06:31am
Tell Allah to save the lives of poor Rizana Nafiks if he can. The writer will be happier with that than his blessings for having to right a piece like this.
Taqi Ramzan Jan 26, 2013 06:07pm
God bless you rafia for pointing out saudi hypocrisy ......
javed Jan 26, 2013 03:46pm
To hell with Arabs.. killing of innocent can allah forgive u?
Sreeni Jan 26, 2013 04:00pm
Good Piece of Journalism. Hats off to the writer for bringing such facts to light. Need more such brave Journalists. Let the facts about such injustice come to light from every corner of the world. Nothing much can be done about such hypocrisies, due to their money and oil power. Let us at least bring out these facts and place in front of the world
Saeed Jan 25, 2013 08:13pm
As being a muslim myself, it sad to admit that muslims are biggest hypocrates and cheats. Look at what happened to the people like myself who fell in the trap and bought property in Ajman UAE. All the money invested there by hundreds of people has been lost to Ajman government with the collusion of the builders.
MRI Jan 25, 2013 03:34pm
I admire Rafia Zakaria of highlighting a painful fact that moves my heart for the poor girl. Shame and Shame to Saudis who slaughtering nonresident without any trial and symbolize them self for Justice. The article should be posted all over to open eyes for Saudi Crowns. Will it make any change, hope for the best.
Jawwad Jan 26, 2013 01:27pm
Ha, I've been unfortunate enough to have lived in middle eastern country and according to my observations, Arabs are the most racist and despicable human beings on planet earth. They treat Asian men and women as herd of sheep and praise the white skin of a foreigner as if a Messiah. They are continuing with their obsolete ways of ruling and this is why we see these revolutions propping up in the neighborhoods. An why would GOP protest when themselves are killing their own people?
Genghis Jan 26, 2013 02:12pm
Would it be true to say that the Arabs have come full circle and become as barbaric and ignorant as they were before Islam was revealed to them? If so them maybe this is their natural state and they should stop the pretence of being anything other than ignorant, barbaric and backward people? After all - what would they be without their oil wealth?
nabeel Jan 26, 2013 05:27am
Its always easy to put the blame on others when actually we ourselves are at fault. They insult us because we don't have any self esteem ourselves. If we have a good system and infrastructure in our own country, do you think so many of our people would go to these Arab countries for these kind of jobs? Is there any thing in our own country, nothing! That is why so many people go out, and our corrupt system and administrators don't care as to what happens to these people abroad. We should be self sufficient and should take care of our people in our own country, and outside, then take my word no one will have the guts to insult our people any where! We need to clear up our mess ourselves and stop putting the blame on others. It is us who are insulting our country men/women that's why others are doing the same to us.
NASAH (USA) Jan 26, 2013 11:57am
Taliban justice allows a 14 years old girl child to be shot in the head for going to school -- Saudi justice beheads a 17 years old girl child for not saving (an unsavable) infant probably with a common infancy ailment of ACID REFLUX that drowned the baby to death in its own regurgitated milk the baby drank. Are there some common threads that run between the two cruelties? Yes - there are: Illiteracy and Ignorance.
Akram Jan 26, 2013 11:25am
Maybe the Saudis share the Indian idea that South Asian Muslims are all Hindu converts.
Akram Jan 26, 2013 11:24am
Who gave you the idea that South Asian Muslims treat Saudis as saints. Can you back up your statement with any proof? I have never in my entire life heard anything good about the Saudis. Obviously we hold Makkah and Madinah in very high regard because it is our Holy Land and we are honoured to go there, but as for the Saudi people, the less said the better. Take some polygamous tribal illiterates and give them bilions in petro dollars and have modern Saudi Arabia.
Nina Jan 26, 2013 11:18am
Who treats them as saints? Saudis are third rate people with lots of money. Nothing more, nothing less
muneer Jan 26, 2013 04:54am
Same old story of Arab - o - Ajam..... and they call themselves champions of Islam .... there is a judgement day.... and there is a God indeed.....
Gauzia Qazi Jan 26, 2013 10:49am
Sadly, we pakistanis still have to go to Mecca. Hence we cannot boycott them . We should at-least request the Saudi's that since we are muslims, we should be treated fairly.
Imran Jan 26, 2013 10:50am
Why Pakistanis have to complain over these issues? After all these issues are the outcome of shariah laws which Pakistanis are so fond of.
Nadeem Asghar Jan 26, 2013 10:18am
Arabs are the least civilised people in this world
indian Jan 26, 2013 08:58am
And this is the God's wish that the Taliban want to impose in India and Al Queda in rest of the world in the name of Sharia?? Now dont tell me it is wrong implementation of Sharia becuase it is actually being practiced in the heartland of Islam!!!
Adil Jan 26, 2013 08:43am
all muslims are not of arab origin.
urawal Jan 26, 2013 08:33am
Then why follow their version / interpretation of religion ? People who are illogical in day to day life will be illogical everywhere else. Have your own understanding and follow it with heart and logic.
elahi Jan 26, 2013 08:21am
Its Riyals, NOT Dirhams....PLEASE!!!
abc Jan 26, 2013 07:48pm
Arabs are the most superior muslims, then the white converts, and south asians and blacks are way down the ladder.
hafeez saeed Jan 26, 2013 04:22am
after all saudis have given us islam so they are naturally our masters
Syed Jan 25, 2013 03:11pm
Well ms Rafia thank you very much for highlighting the issue. I am not sure either it will shake the conscious of south asian muslims but definitely it will build the long term hate for the issues we are scared to talk about.
SBB Jan 25, 2013 03:12pm
Wow! I had no idea about the details of this case, thanks for exposing them. Those who expect Mercy from above need to be mindful of the Mercy they themselves give on earth.
Shaukat Alvi Jan 25, 2013 08:32pm
Very sell written disclosure of the fact about Saudi Arabia. Shame for the countries who do not look after their citizens well. Saudi needs punishment for all this. Bad days for them are coming near if they do not change their policies. Human's awareness is not on the rise. Days of such injustice are getting close to end.
abbastoronto Jan 25, 2013 05:15pm
Dr. Shah: AOA This is not hypocrisy of the Arabs. This is post-Mohammedan Islam. The law declaring that Arabs were superior to non-Arabs was implemented only 5 years after the death of our dear Prophet Mohammed AS. It was then decreed that Arabs could no longer be enslaved. It is still on Islamic books of Islamic fiqh. They Arabs are not hypocrites, we are who still long for the "Rightly Guided Islam" rather that "Mohammedan Islam", and still raise objections to the novelties of the former. Learn your history. Wassalam
asif Jan 25, 2013 08:34pm
they are not willing to give the human rights to other than saudis, even not give citizenship, saudis woman cant marry other than arabs, it is we who talked about muslim ummah. they are arabs first then muslims
umair Jan 26, 2013 03:24am
Agreed, but we should put it in daily urdu. People need to change their views about Saudis
Asad Shah Jan 26, 2013 03:37am
If there was no post mortam done on the child then how the author knows that the child died because of "possible internal blockage" and how did the doctor report concluded it? I am no fan of the Saudi's but this is a very one sided article with a lot of assumptions. Not sure what the author wanted to portray? If her point was that there are very harsh conditions for the immigrant worker in Saudi Arabia then she is probably right. But to link this fact with the murder of a child seems too far fetched and should have been avoided, in my humble opinion.
Amazed Jan 26, 2013 03:05am
Muslims need a Renaissance and I think there time is coming. This unfortunate event is making people think beyond religion.
Mohabbat Jan 26, 2013 02:50am
I know many Pakistanis here in UK, who prefer Indian 'brothers' over their own Pakistani brothers, because they can't trust them
Mohabbat Jan 26, 2013 02:47am
Pakistanis go to Saudi only to realise that it would have been better from basic human rights point of view to go to a western nation. When they arrive in EU or US, they realise, the western culture does not agree with their Muslim ethos - like women wearing revealing dresses, having boy friends before marriage etc. and then they demand Sharia Law in western countries. I want to do a consensus by vote from our readers - only muslims please!! Give this message a 'Like' if you agree with western ethos on people's rights, give a 'Dislike' if you agree with Saudi and Sharia law
Almanar Jan 25, 2013 11:56am
Say one word against the Saudis in Pakistan and all of a sudden you will be at the centre of a life-threatening situation yourself. I've lived and worked in Saudi and I don't even wish for my worst enemies to go there. I left that place in less then 5 months. I would rather be blown away by a terrorist bomb then ever go back to Saudi. They are the worst of the worst on this planet. Still have to meet a single decent Saudi.
Jaffer Jamil Jan 25, 2013 08:15pm
Knowing this - and other stories like this - everyone in all the South Asian countries should have deep respect for workers that go to the ME. Weak South Asian governments that have absolutely no respect for their obligations allow hundreds to be mistreated in jails overseas.
Virendra Jan 26, 2013 01:11am
Well the Saudis are upholders of Mecca and Islam. They can't be wrong. And anyway, since when we started caring about life of a South Asian?
Zahid Jan 26, 2013 12:26am
The Saudis,how cruel and grossly lacking in justice and yet ruling the land of the Prophet.
azhar Jan 25, 2013 11:57pm
What a shame full comment. I believe with the numbers of thumbs up there are a good number of malicious people in this world. I pray that nothing like this ever happen to their loved ones.
george Jan 25, 2013 09:29am
And still the south asian muslims treat the saudis as saints.
Pratham Jan 25, 2013 09:30am
Why didnt she plead that she being a muslim was of Arab origin too.
Faisal Taquie Jan 25, 2013 11:26pm
Even if I agree, it has to be proven that one Saudi life was taken. In this case, with no autopsy, it was just the fact that someone had to pay the price and it happened to be the weakest.
raw is war Jan 25, 2013 02:52pm
corrections. like gods.
Mohammad Ali Khan Jan 25, 2013 11:05pm
This is from the land our Prophet.How sad he would be to see the culture of jahalat in the birth place of Islam.
Neer Nayan Jan 25, 2013 07:27pm
Peace be upon the departed soul of the helpless girl, who the world failed to ensure justice! Sanaa-khwaan-e-taqdees-e-mashriq kahaan hain?
malik1010 Jan 25, 2013 07:28pm
The world needs to demand an end to these barbaric punishments. Islamic or not does not matter. A human life is more precious to waste than some scripture.
AHA Jan 25, 2013 02:03pm
Discrimination is the order of the day in that country.
Archy Jan 25, 2013 03:02pm
I don't mean to be a nit pick but Saudi currency is called Riyal and not Dirham.
pgs Jan 25, 2013 10:21pm
Muslim on Muslim violence. Arabs are famous for this. Sold Africans Blacks to Americans as slaves. Saudis always feel that they are upper class Brahmans and Pakistanis are unteachable Sudra. You can not merry an Arab and can not hold home or their nationality, 1.3 billion of Muslims not a single world class leader or scientist. Shame,
H Chaudhry Jan 25, 2013 10:06pm
Why is Islam to Violent ? Why is our religion the worse or is it the followers ?
Rizwan ul hasan khan Jan 25, 2013 09:47pm
A great article that can only be written by a very very brave writer.............. A horrible real story in a very thrilling style................ I wish if she would have been there for some years among all these working class................... Why don't she write a book on this topic........... just go through the local papers of last years and that'all...............She had a sward in her hand, in the shape of pen, Please , tell her, there are now thousands of people in love with her, because of her this article and I am one of them....................
tipu Jan 25, 2013 09:46pm
Two important things to remember,,it is a country having a kingship or monarchy.Most of the work is done by poor expatriates,specially from south asia,so the rulers always try to keep their public happy just by giving them unnecessary and unjust favours against the expatriates so their kingship will remain safe and the ignorant people will not revolt against them.2ndly we should also blame oyr countries first.failing to offer us what these monarchies are offering and 2ndly not taking care and fighting for the basic rights of their citizens once they are in need.I am very honestly telling you that in my 15 years of stay in this country i have never seen a westerner being executed,rather they are pardoned by the king.
BJK Jan 25, 2013 09:22pm
Brings tears to the eyes. Thanks for drawing our attention to the plight of a helpless human being.
Muhammad Alam Jan 25, 2013 09:16pm
Dont want to generalise,but it is a sad state of affairs that a Pakistani's or fellow South Asians life and stature in front of Arabs in general is cheap and disrespectful. It does not help that some black sheep are taking advantage and breaking the laws giving ample ammunition for these beliefs. There are some who still have respect, but to many we are a dime a dozen. For some Arabs, a white cleaner will have more respect than a pakistani scientist who will still be regarded as a labourer.If Pakistan could only have proper leadership and utilise its workforce, who would want to live like a dog in other countries.
rich Jan 25, 2013 01:38pm
KSA is a very corrupt and evil country by any standa a couple of years ago they did pardon an indian under pressure from india westerner are almost never executed, so their justice is biased, and only citizens of countries which are weak economicaly and militarily are killed most of the excecuted are muslim as visa is mostly given to muslim, non muslim do not get visa unless they are people of the book as they say this poor srilankan girl was murdered plain and simple, Sri lankan govt should have raised this issue in UN, if the saudis throw out all asian expatriate their economy will collapse, they need the worker as much as workers need the jobs when will asian stand up with pride against these barbarians Richie
MKB Jan 25, 2013 10:40am
Very painful tale of poor human who went there for better future. How barbaric is this. How can a person can be convicted with out fair trail? How the Saudi authority convict the poor girl with out Sri Lanka already banned the export of maid to any gulf countries.
Taher Jan 25, 2013 09:51am
This is so sad. During my 15 years stay in Saudi, I noticed similar and petty level injustices meted out to foreigners, in particular those coming from South Asia. If a Saudi bumped into the back of your vehicle, then the foreigner is automatically at fault and so on. Talk of fairness of Shariah law and its double standards proponents. In the city streets, the rowdy Saudi children are simply a menace and are a handful throwing stones and using abusive language at foreign men and women. Molesting foreign women by Saudi adults is a common occurence but dare no be reported since the victims will suffer the repercussions and ugly counter blames.
Mansoor Jan 25, 2013 07:57pm
The fact is that I am so fed up with this argument: What is an Islamic welfare system? Why to use this "Islamic" adjective to begin with? Any good welfare system is a system that effectively provide all its citizens without any distinction equal access to basic human needs. Just as it would be silly to say that this is an Islamic tractor, it is also useless to say that some welfare system is Islamic.
Gary Sahi Jan 25, 2013 10:18am
Poverty is the only greatest natural vice that can ever be. All other vices are man made. If only the residents of Indian sub-continent thought like that.
Farhan Jan 25, 2013 10:15am
Men playing God here, imposing their own might in the name of islam. We can implement islamic punishments only after islamic welfare system is in place to avoid crimes/mistakes in the first place. Can we ever see substance over form.
A Jan 25, 2013 02:02pm
no one treats Saudis as saints!
BEA Jan 25, 2013 04:47pm
i agree a saudi child aged 7 driving a car knocks some one over and kills them guess who is to blame its not the child these people are mad.too much money not enough sence.
Md Imran Jan 25, 2013 04:39pm
Dawn, please stop the nefarious articles against the benevolent sheikhs who are the keepers of our holy mosques. Not only that, we must never forget that our ancestors freed the arab lands and upheld our prophet (PBUH) ideals. She was punished in accordance to Shariah. It was a just punishment that met the crime. If we had implemented such a system in Pakistan, we wouldn't have to suffer from the daily corruption and incompetent governance.
Procastinator Jan 25, 2013 01:52pm
What happened, happened as per Sharia law. There is no obligation to conduct postmortem as per Sharia law. If it was useful thing, Sharia law must a recommended that when sharia law was written. No way Saudi's are at fault for anything as they just followed laws of Sharia. If people still feel bad then put the fault on Sharia and be ready for 295-C
Kiran Jan 26, 2013 07:21pm
Most of the sub continent muslims do ! The Arabs dont agree with them is a different matter....
Shah Jan 25, 2013 11:10am
No one should be able to punish another, much less take a life without due process.
True Democracy Jan 25, 2013 01:50pm
Some people want to impose the same format of sharia law in Pakistan where you just get the punishment as per sharia but hardly get any justice.
Dr. Shah Jan 25, 2013 11:01am
Allah Bless u Rafia for raising the hypocrisy of the Arabs!!!!!! I will say the maid might not have been paid any wages for years too, God knows but that is usually the case. My prophet land is in the hands of hypocrites.
Gulbaz Mushtaq Jan 25, 2013 04:32pm
Under the Shariah Law, a retracted confession made before the police authorities (and without any strong corroboration of other independant evidence) may not become ground of conviction in murder charges. No post martum was made. Nor cause of death of child was ascertained by any other means. Saudis must bring forth as to what evidence was available against the girl and as to why accused was not given benefit of doubt by virtue of the Holy Prophet's (PBUH) saying "Idra-u al-hadud bil-shubhaat" (spare the punishment from accused, if there is any doubt). Very sad incident.
Mohammad Ehtesham Jan 25, 2013 06:27pm
It's about the money, all about the money.
Nasir Jan 26, 2013 07:07pm
Whats wrong with doing proper investigation, how about not beating up the poor weak helpless accused, how about giving her right of proper legal representation, whats wrong with doing a proper postmortem analysis of the deceased in time and using it. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is a very well know phenomenon.
imran Jan 25, 2013 04:25pm
utterly callous! words alone can not express the indifference of the so called custodians of the law, its disgusting the way they treat you even in your own land. has any one ever punished saudis visiting here for violating a low? having had first hand experience of working with them here its absolute rot they are, monarchs are ruling since the population is snoring! they are the modern poppy eaters just bestowed by the wealth of oil.
Ahsan Raza Jan 25, 2013 04:23pm
Its very tragic they try other nationals in their country and export their criminals to other country like Pakistan, Yemen ,Iraq and Syria. A very tragic reality, We are suffering due to them, these drone attacks are not meant for Pakistanis but they die as a collateral damage.
Nasir Jan 25, 2013 04:23pm
This is another example of Arab injustice and sense of superiority towards nonarab muslims. Be a good muslim is to be a good slave to Arabs. This is Arab imperialism which makes a Asian muslim bow to an Arab because they believe that Arabs are superior to them.
Pinto Jan 27, 2013 08:43am
Well I m not surprised at execution in KSA as its law there. In autocratic state the decisions are based on the collective thinking of officials concerned depriving accused of a fair trial. So what could we say " Amen"
Zaki Hassan Jan 25, 2013 10:54am
Very good article, I find so much injustice in Muslims. We the Muslims don't consider that every human is equal. I just don't understand why people gather to see such cruel thing happening to a helpless person.
Mohammad Ataullah Jan 25, 2013 04:25pm
She is probably in the care Allah, SWT. She will be in Jannah for being poor and injustice done to her. As promised in Al-Qur'an. Such a injustice opposite to Allah SWT's and His Rasool'Allah SWS's ruling. Present rulers have gone back to Jahalia days. They are Hypocrates and Ghulam of the Zionist west. They never ever touch white, Christians of powerful countries. Even if they do, west pressures them to release and sadly use Muslameen to get them released to take them away within a year at the most. Why not start a petition? Just like Dr. Dr Afia in Guantanamo bay by America!
Wajahat Hussain Jan 25, 2013 10:51am
Rafia sahiba; its very well written! I had worked as an engineer for three different companies in Saudi Arabia for over six years but never enjoyed it. The Saudis are snobs and think others are there to do their dirty work. There are people from Asian countries who are more qualified and experienced but under-paid against EU/USA citizens. It is solely because of the fact that those countries are strong and look after their expatriates interests! What I found in 2007 working for a company established by a Pakistani-Canadian in Jeddah is that such brothers in connivance with Saudis are more ruthless exploiters and can stoop to any means just to have their way. People will have to stand against this!
majid canada Jan 25, 2013 05:57pm
this is not true george.
Guest63 Jan 25, 2013 06:09pm
Why did you spent 6 years of your life in that country , you are an educated one , enlightened one , why did you not quit the first day , the first week , the first month or if you did quit from the first company , why did you stay put there even one day more ? Please tell the true side of your 6 years staying , you were not a forced laborer I guess then why the heck to stay 5 years and 11 months more and not in one but in 3 saudi companies , perhaps , the Petro$ taxfree money was more attraction which made your morale inner sleep a happy 6 year long life and after having bulged your bank account with hefty taxree petro$ , all of a sudden , your innerself has arisen to tell us , saudi are snobs ........ Stop this saudi bashing man , you have no morale value left in you (after staying there 5years 11 months more than you would not have to if you were not a hypocrite then )
Kumar Jan 25, 2013 04:09pm
Our embassy their should check that all the pakistanis are give a free and fair trial......God be with the 3 poor pakistanis on the execution list......May Allah help the innocents....Amen
does not matter Jan 25, 2013 06:05pm
I think it will be foolish to expect anything from South Asian governments. Only south asiasn living there can do something about it. May be a arabian spring is needed there.
citizen Jan 25, 2013 04:04pm
I have worked in Saudi. It is common knowledge that Saudis treat maid servants very badly. They are sexually exploited and never paid fairly. South Asians are treated worst.
Hakim Jan 25, 2013 11:35am
They are the worst muslim I would say. Saudis are a shame on the name of Islam.
Aamir Jan 25, 2013 06:00pm
Good article. But at least the near future is not hopeful. Saudi hypocrite law. Look at Quran what it says about treating slaves who are actually bought by their lords, their punishment is usually half than a normal person even if found guilty. Looks like we will stay slaves to this BIG BROTHER for decades to come.
Guest63 Jan 25, 2013 06:00pm
dear georges ,Because , they give you tax free Petro$ and the healthcare and other facilities ( at not cost to you ! ) which , your own country of birth and brilliant leaders of yours Can not even think to provide you a fraction of that even at full cost !
Yaseen Jan 25, 2013 03:02pm
Very good article . My father also worked in saudia and tells me same story about these arrogant people. They think that they are superior then people of every muslim country. Specially , Pakistanis are animals for them
abbastoronto Jan 25, 2013 11:33am
I spent 6 months in Riyadh in 1986 setting up its first commercial computer centre catering to the Engineering Community. A few tales from that harrowing stay. 1. Some Saudi youth had engaged a Philippino girl to sell her beauty and taken her to an apartment. Someone, perhaps a neighbour, informed the Police. Upon hearing the knock at the door and fearful of the consequences of being caught the youth simply tossed the hapless girl out of the window of the 6th floor. The Police recorded that the girl had died from falling from high above from an unknown apartment. End of the story. The foreigners (except the Whites) have no value in the land. 2. Then the Pakistani Army was training the Saudi Army. One hilarious tale circulating from a Pakistani Colonel was that the Saudi conscripts would only do trench-training if the trenches were air-conditioned. No wonder the Royalty called in the Americans for help when Saddam threatened them, leading OBL to 9/11. Here is a country claiming to be Islamic that is named after a Tribe (Saud) when the faith had come to abolish Tribalism. Needless to say my Russian wife who had become by then fully integrated with our family and Islam was so revolted by her stay there Saudis that she developed a disliking to the faith, and I do not blame her at all. Fortunately, the price of oil fell from $40 to $11 per barrel forcing my employer to renege on the contract and terminating the stay due to lack of business. That was the most enjoyable job termination of my life.
Guest63 Jan 25, 2013 05:56pm
She missed a brilliant counsel like you , Pratham , teach this virtue to your country men and women who are flocking the Saudi Embassy , perhaps your wise advice , may one day save one of the souls . If you and your country men and women accept to apply for a visa to KSA , your in essence upholding to subject yourselves to the enacted laws and process of that country so if you or any of your country folks happen to end up on the wrong side of the same law , there is no point to cry foul . too late it would be , if you or your country folks have to die at the altar of a sadui sword , then why not stay put in your very own country of birth and die out of the natural cause and be happy there after
Salman Jan 25, 2013 11:27am
This is savagery pure and simple. Savagery that is endured by the meek and docile workers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and carried out by people who are drunk in their immense wealth.
Guest63 Jan 25, 2013 05:48pm
Dear Tahir , Why did you stay there for so long , 15 years an eternity if you were not chained there against your free good will to stay there I doubt that was the reason , Yoiu were there because you wanted to have the share of the Petro$ Tax free so why do not you tell the truth about yourself too , If you were noticing such inhuman insults and perhaps few times you must be exposed to these too because you are not a Saudi yourself , WHY accept such taunts and inhumanity , Why not pack and go to your beloved country of birth where you would be like the Saudi , king in your own ! But you stayed put for 15 long years because , a hypocrite in you did not consider these so called sub humane acts worth the price to sacrifice the taxfree petro$ . before you accuse me of the same crime , I can tell you upfront , I was in the Gulf for 11 years before I was forced by my company to go to Saudi and attend a business meeting for a week and that one week for me was more than enough to promise to myself , I will Never come to this land even if I am paid triple the salary and if I come I will only come to fulfill my religious obligation to perform Haj . I was able to keep my promise for next 20 years ( I never ever went to KSA nor even passed through their any international airports after having witnesses the worst case scenario with my once in life passing through Dharan intl airport as transit ! ) , I eventually broke ( in reality kept my promise to myself , when I did go there and perform my 5th pillar of Islamic teachings , Khalas , Finished , after that there is no charm of petro$ or any other taxfree heavens which can make me break my promise not to go there ! ) Many of the things they do , i do not adore or like But It does not give me a right to attack them , what they do in their country , is there business to mind , If There act do not corresponds to satisfy my morale and inner thinking , The best i can do is not to go there (come what may the attractions and facilities are compared to my own country ) and the least I can do is , let them, mind their business and like I mind mine .............. Hope you can teach yourself , these self restrain and apply it too , if you can not because the lure of taxfree petro$ is too much to ignore than , do not a hypocrite
Mian Mutti Jan 25, 2013 11:26am
Indeed sad to read if its reality. I love KSA being Muslim due to several positive reasons. I have observed most the time our media is degrading Saudi Arabia and they don
Immy Jan 25, 2013 12:09pm
Saudis can only behead people from poor countries. They wouldn't dare touch anyone from west.
Muhammad Saleem Jan 25, 2013 12:31pm
I'm a Muslim of South Asian origin and wonder just as you do, George!
Nasir Jan 26, 2013 07:01pm
With all due respect this is not one black sheep, this is the "system" being criticized here. Also I just don't know how two wrongs will make a right.
raika45 Jan 25, 2013 12:21pm
Forgive me for making a statement that will rile the readers or raise your heckles.Bear with me.So here goes.So what a few of your people especially from Pakistan or Sri Lanka have their heads chopped off. Or those in prison on dubious charges?People die of accidents and shooting everyday in your countries.Those of yours working overseas send billions to your countries. Money sorely needed by your foreign cash starved countries.We are talking of billions. Especially in Pakistan's case.You think your governments want to give up this source of lucrative income just because the Saudi's chop off a few of your peoples necks?People are a commodity in this great game of politics and nationalism.However it will be a different ball game if the Saudis have the guts to behead an American.
AQ Jan 25, 2013 12:20pm
Once again we are quick to judge the "arabs'. In all societies there are "dark" sheeps just like there are in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh etc. They have their own rules and regulations just like any other country. If you chose to live there than you have to respect their rules, if you dont like it just go anywhere else.. Stop pointing fingers and look at yourself first! How many women got raped in pakistan, India or Bangladesh? How many women suffered acid attacks? The ironic thing is Pakistan, Srilanka, India and Bangladesh have female lawmakers, ministers, presidents, yet they have never made laws to protect their own women ;)
Stranger Jan 25, 2013 01:27pm
How does the writer know that the maid is innocent ? I am not saying the maid deserved to die so horridly but please give credit to the investigating authorities. They have done due investigations before reaching this verdict.Every place the poor are not innocent and the rich are not villians .
Naeem Jan 25, 2013 01:23pm
Oh GOD, please take their oil away so that they can feel the same as millions others of south asian origin feel.
A Bhalla Jan 25, 2013 12:19pm
The Saudis spread their culture to enslave people in the subcontinent physically and mentally. Pakistan is a good example
rabbi Jan 25, 2013 12:17pm
it was but only a single lens picture of the story, showed no sympathy for the feelings of a mom who left her cheerful baby in the custody of a care-worker who was supposed to return him unharmed but she could not do justice to her job hence punished. what's wrong in looking at the incident this way?
Cyrus Howell Jan 25, 2013 01:11pm
This is not calculus. The life of one Saudi Arabian is worth more than the life of one Sri Lankan. Seems like simple arithmetic to me.
Nasir Jan 26, 2013 06:57pm
Infat life of a Saudi Camel worth more than life of a third class "Rafique", and why would they need justice, when justice is what the their masters have chose for them. Eye opener for those who think of Saudi state being representative of a "Islamic state". Noth there is such a thing.
meow Jan 26, 2013 06:58pm
Saudis need domestic labor as much as the labor who wants to work ! government meek response reflects its betrayal of its own people.
AHA Jan 25, 2013 12:54pm
Seems humanity has no place in the complete code of life that the Saudis follow.
SI Jan 25, 2013 02:39pm
Saudi govt is not accountable to anyone for such inhumane acts.
zak Jan 25, 2013 02:21pm
Muslims and others should not go to Saudi Arabia......
Dheebaj Khan Jan 25, 2013 02:18pm
This an eye opener article - it proves no matter what people say about the west, especially the USA, and being a non muslim or non arab country, they are far better then the arabs. Cruelty and attitude of Arab World is unbearable, what is mentioned above is a reality, thousands can agree to it, but to visa cancelations, and unemployment, poor maids do not talk about it. I think people make mistake judging good muslims to Arabs.
A. Khan Jan 25, 2013 05:24pm
Good job, Rafia. Very eloquently put. Absence of ones basic rights as a human being is one reason I am repulsed by the idea of working in Middle Eastern countries. By executing Rizana, did the parents of the baby get their child back ? This was simple blood lust, an eye for an eye, as Saudi law does not seem to differentiate between murder and manslaughter. Be that as it may, why don't the Arabs provide basic child minding or even first aid training to the maids that look after their children ? God knows, they are rich enough to be able to afford that and this would be a small price to pay for future benefits. The fact is the Arabs are simply interested in exploiting poor people to their own benefit. Yet, the curse of crushing poverty dictates that there are hordes waiting to replace any such person, clutching ikamas like it were their religious book. Perhaps I shouldn't say that as I come from a comparatively privileged background. But at least I don't exploit anyone and I am vehemently against employing young children in houses to do household chores and mind children who are as young/old as the minder. And that applies not only to Arabs but also desis. Think of it as if it was your child working or should I say slaving away in someone else's house. How would you feel ?
Shahzad Bin Khaliq Jan 25, 2013 02:12pm
Time waste issue, Time waste article and premature thinking writer.
AHA Jan 25, 2013 02:06pm
Change can come there only if the Saudis want to change. There is an odd event of defiance, like a Saudi woman driving on the streets, or a Saudi blogger posting something 'offensive', but I do not see any sighs of change on the broad front.
Farzad Jan 27, 2013 07:33am
Bravo Rafia... indeed an issue that never gets any airtime... if it isn't us inside that prison or awaiting execution it doesn't really matter... Pakistani attitude.
chump Jan 27, 2013 02:15am
No wonder, people prefer their western enemies for assylum to Arab countries. Now I get you better on earlier blogs.
chump Jan 27, 2013 02:20am
Annnnd those ''caste system'' will bring most favoured nation -India down. They discriminate a lot!
Ahmed Jan 27, 2013 02:57am
In present times the Saudis followed by the people of Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are the worst of people on Earth. They understand the Quran yet are into every wrong doing. Justice will be served on them and hopefully sooner than later.
Tamilselvan Jan 27, 2013 03:29am
The countries you have mentioned do not have a rule for national and rule for guest workers. Exploitation of guest workers in Saudi is the worst and mostly done by the nationals. Was the Saudi who drove more than 100 nails on a Sri Lankan worker punished, NO. They have a hogwash justice system. These people call themselves protectors of all the holy shire of the Islam. Shame on them
Adnan Jan 27, 2013 03:37am
Quite logical reply. If she was innocent (as suggested in this article) her execution without getting complete evidence (again as suggested by this article) is totally wrong and brings bad name to religion. But I wonder where were those who are writing in favor of this Sri Lankan lady when the poor (and weak) Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced 83 years in prison by the american courts for attempting to murder (not for murder actually) two strong and trained US Army personnel!!!
MAH, Abu Dhabi Jan 27, 2013 04:31am
Why don't you get your facts right ..... Arab is not the same as Muslim. One is an ethnicity and the other is a religion!!!!
PW Jan 27, 2013 04:53am
Yes, AQ law must take its course but why doesn't it take its due course in case of westerners too - that is a question.
Sumit Jan 27, 2013 05:00am
Even if what you say is true the maid was guilty of negligence or ignorance. That is not murder. Also it is evident that the poor woman had no legal help. She should be murdered because she ``could not do justice to her job''?
Asim Jan 27, 2013 05:36am
Dude, there is a HUGE different between death by mistake and intentional murder! The lady was beaten (there is no room for that) and sentenced as a first degree murderer.
Zya Jan 27, 2013 09:14am
Dear Editor and Readers, Just do not get angry over the Be-headings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Please see what other states of the world have such in-justices or how their justice systems work. There are numerous Western civilized states that do not want IMPARTIAL witnesses or PLEAS from the so called accused , there are unfair trials of all religious individuals in accordance to the states requirements and wishes. Do not be carried away with such events, just read these articles and be assured that we all are powerless in front of the States machinery.
Asim Jan 27, 2013 05:48am
@Mutti A very biased analysis indeed! So as a reaction you are blaming Pakistani Shias for Saudi atrocities against Muslims (Shias + Sunnis) and NON MUSLIMS!!! Are you really doing justice to yourself?
PFS Jan 27, 2013 06:13am
The matter of fact is, in KSA sual system exists, the law and rules for alien is far different than saudi. The same thing is the life of saudi infant or child is more precious than any person belong to Asia. So there is no need to cry over this issue. the simple theory is that Asians are in dire need to work in KSA, then whatever the attitude and behavious encouters the worker will have to tolerate. In fact the life there is still like a slave. there are countless persons who are under the control of Kafeel system and are not allowed to go. thery are everyday dying and living, if they run away the livilihood propestects are not so fruitful that they could leave or quit the job. in the result they bear all ill-attidtude and so. we can pray that our countries law n order situation aleriorate then everything becomes smooth and healthy.
Guest63 Jan 27, 2013 08:59am
Good question dude , these people see evil in a society and rules and laws , But ask them , bring back that young toddler to that grieving mom , who can and why not to look at that side of the story too ? God bless you for taking up the story of that suffering mom
Gill Jan 27, 2013 07:11am
Stated in simple words - Saudies are not civilized yet. It will take time. People who live there do not know the meaning of freedom. UN-civilized person start thinks he is better the moment he gets quick money (in this case they got oil money).
Awais Jan 27, 2013 07:13am
A very sad story but there are many more concealed by them. Its a kind of prejudice or conspiracy as they are adapting everything from west except freedom of speech and respect of human.