Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it beheaded three men convicted of various crimes, bringing the total number of executions announced by the ultra-conservative kingdom so far this year to 101.This year will see the Kingdom dole out the most capital punishment to criminals so far this decade. In 2000, 113 were put to death. At the current pace, 204 executions will have taken place by year's end, giving Saudi Arabia the highest official per capita capital punishment rate in the world.
Fine. Internal violent crime in the turbulent country is impressively low, and from a perspective of immediate global economic stability, it is encouraging to see that the royal family is willing to see heads roll to dampen the powder keg.
But in several ways, the news illustrates just how hopelessly quixotic is the dream of realizing a Jeffersonian liberal society in the Middle East. The reference above to heads rolling isn't figurative. Most executions are by way of beheading, on display for the public to see. The death penalty may be meted out for the following offences:
Executions are usually carried out in public in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty.Think about that. Giving up the faith falls under the same category as rape and murder. To turn against the dominant belief system carries the risk of death. It's not an issue of governmental tyranny either--there are legions of groups residing in the Kingdom that would elect to take an apostate's head before the royal family would.
Contrast this to the US, where challenging the Zero Group Differences orthodoxy is largely considered to be the gravest of all intellectual sins. It may carry a public pilloring and ultimately threaten the apostate's livelihood, but the worst official punition is the threat of a loss of governmental funding that had been previously received.
The vast majority of Westerners are appalled at the idea of physically harming a person for what he thinks or says. Without this repugnance in play, it is difficult to imagine anything close to a liberal democracy taking form. Rather than abandoning that illiberalism, however, the Islamic world is bringing it into the Occident while increasingly embracing it at home. Not only is extirpation of the dissenter desired, the most brutal and undignified way of removal is to be employed.
The situation isn't necessarily hopeless for those condemned by the Saudi government:
But it is possible for the condemned to have their live's spared. Local newspapers have carried stories of people on death row for murder who are pardoned by the family of the slain victim. ...The possibility of an isonomic society is hopeless, though. That money can so conspicuously buy justice, with official sanction no less, makes a mockery of the idea of equal protection under the law.
Such pardons are accompanied by the payment of diyya, or blood money, to the victim's family. They can also be the result of "reconciliation" involving greater compensation than stipulated by law.
The assumption that a man's extended family is responsible for his actions and entitled to reparations for harm done to him is the strongest rebuke of all against liberalism. Justice is merely an issue to be decided upon by clans party to the conflict. Legal principles are contingent upon the opinions of the 'plaintiffs' and 'defendants'. Instead of crimes being committed against the public or against humanity, acts are committed against the tribe, and that same tribe determines what actions are necessary to rectify the situation.
Expect an impartial judicial system to be constructed out of this? Hope to be adequately represented by your local politician? Better hope the jurist and the legislator share your blood.
The Islamic world strikes us as retrograde. But it is not returning to any previous period of time. It is continuing, in all of these ways, a civilizational tradition that extends fourteen centuries into the past. Introducing a few propositions and boots on the ground is scarcely going to scratch the surface.
Liberalism has no way of asserting itself in the face of illiberalism. Worse, it cannot defend itself against illiberalism, but only be tarnished by it.
Consequently, the West should separate from the Islamic world in every possible way. End immigration from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, deport those illegally present, and bribe legalized immigrants to return home. Create lucrative awards for innovative entrepreneurs and corporations that create economically viable energy alternatives to oil. Pull out most troops stationed in Iraq. Don't return them to Saudi Arabia, instead retaining only strategic contingents in places like Kuwait and the Persian Gulf to react to abrupt oil distribution disruptions.