Sunday, June 7, 2009

Only in Saudi (part 1 of many parts)

Ah...Saudi. The Birthplace of Islam. The country with Makkah and Madinah. The place that claims to uphold Islamic values. The country that tries to be the beacon of light in the Muslim world. The land where shari'a rules.


Also the country where many ridiculously un-Islamic things happen.

I was reading this post and I still can't get over how racist this is. The post basically talks about blood money, which is how much you pay a family when you kill one of its members. We have this in Egypt too although I'm not sure how it works. I personally would never accept money and would rather the person go to jail but a lot of people don't seem to have a problem with putting a price on a life.

Anyway these are the prices in Saudi:

  • 100,000 riyals if the victim is a Muslim man
  • 50,000 riyals if a Muslim woman
  • 50,000 riyals if a Christian man
  • 25,000 riyals if a Christian woman
  • 6,666 riyals if a Hindu man
  • 3,333 riyals if a Hindu woman.
So. What have we learnt from this?

1. A woman is half of a man.
2. A Saudi man is worth $27,000, a Saudi woman is worth $13,000, and Hindu woman is worth $888.
3. Saudi's government is racist.
4. I can't believe how low Saudi has gone: from the birthplace of Islam to this.

Now the prices in general are pretty low. If you must put a price on someone's life at least make it high. The price for a Hindu woman is pretty shocking. Above all else though is the blatant racism of this policy. I mean seriously, if you MUST be racist at least try and HIDE it! This one policy contains sexism, racism, and religionism (I know this isn't a word). I wonder how many Saudis know about it?

Anyway. Next time you're in Saudi and you want to accidentally kill someone, look for the cheapest target!


Lisa said...

Wow, it's out the window on so many things! Forget the idea that Muslim men are supposed to be allowed to marry People of the Book, and those woman are afforded the same rights.

So what if she's a Jewish woman since she encompasses People of the Book? Does she at least get a lamb slaughtered in her honor, or do they just spit on her body as it passes through the town for burial?

Interesting to me that Hindus are afforded any rights at all. They are polytheistic. Hey at least that $888 could pay a month's rent in a dilapidated shack though. Very thoughtful :)

Jaz said...

The worst thing is when people who don't really know much about Islam use a Saudi law against you when they're trying to persuade you how crappy Islam is. People actually believe Saudi Law = Islamic law.

The hindu prices are shocking :O.. now I DON'T agree with a lower price for a man vs a woman - not at all. However, in general a man will earn more money throughout his life and will provide money for his family so in terms of money the family will probably lose more from the death of a man. Maybe that's their excuse, but if this was the idea then what they should do is assess each case individually.
However, no excuse to make for them in terms of Christians & Hindus having lower prices.. really disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Hindus believe in 1 God, technically ... at least, that is what I've heard.

Umm Omar said...

That is sooooo odd! I wonder what the thinking is on that one. haha, and what a perfect title for the post.

Well, anyway, I don't see anything so wrong with paying the family of the victim money, in itself. People take out life insurance policies and others take individuals into civil lawsuits over deaths of family members. Yes, you can't put a price on life; that's why murder is a sin. But the fact is is that when a family member dies, their contribution to the family also dies, and the money they receive may aid the family while they mourn and rearrange their lives.

ellen557 said...

There are so many Hindu workers in KSA! What a slap in the face for them.

xoxo, nadia said...

I hate to see how someone of a different religion is priced lower. Although I can see how they could somehow possibly dream up of a reason for a Muslim man to be worth double that of a Muslim woman.

They probably think that the male is the one who goes out and earns a living for the family so, if he were to die, the family's income would suffer significantly.

It's sad but I guess that's how things work over there...

I'm with you about blood money. I'd rather the person serve time in prison.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Lisa: LOL great comment. It's ridiculous. I wonder what the prices are for Jews, now that you brought it up.

Jaz: the problem is a lot of Muslims believe that Saudi law - Muslim law too, not just non-Muslims, so this gives off the impression that the two go together when in fact Saudi law is pretty far from Islamic law.
I agree that they should assess each case individually, especially since in Saudi usually women don't work, so I get why a man would be worth more.

Aynur: I remember hearing something like that too, that it is technically one God, but I'm not sure.

Umm Omar: I see how it would help, but I feel like it's so easy to let someone off for murder as long as they pay some money. Here for example people do NOT drive properly and so a lot of pedestrians die...if someone I knew was killed that way I'd want the driver to go to jail and understand why he shouldn't have been speeding/talking on the phone/reading the Qur'an while driving. I think both should be applied: jail term and blood money.

Ellen: that's the sad thing, there are lots of them there. I wonder if there have been any demonstrations etc against these prices?

xoxo, Nadia: I also see why in Saudi it may be necessary to pay more for a man since the woman usually doesn't work, but it doesn't make sense for people of different religions to have different prices, like you said.

Thanks everyone for posting!

Anonymous said...

cairo - I agree, I think that I can understand why a man gets more than a woman, since he is normally responsible for the woman.

Okay I did a bit of searching, and it does look like Hindus believe in 1 God. I remember my MIL telling me "did you know they believe in 1 God, too bad they're not going to heaven b/c they don't believe in our prophet". I'm like, okay, what does the Qur'an say??

Here's a except from this website:
In Hinduism God is Lord Siva for the Saivites; for Shakats He is Shakti and for Vaishnavas, Lord Vishnu is the Supreme God. The Smartans have six deities as reflection of the One and only One God, the choice belongs to the devotee.
Hindu believes that God is not far away. He does not reside in heaven but is every where, among us and inside each and every soul. God is always within. Hindus never were nor are polytheist. They are perfectly monist.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Aynur: if the man is responsible for the woman (like most are in Saudi) then it is understandable. But in Egypt this usually isn't the case so it wouldn't make sense. I think a case-by-case thing should be put in place. What if the woman is the bread winner and not the man? Also I have my doubts about Saudi law. Usually sexism and not necessity or logic is responsible for some of their laws, so I don't think I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks for that excerpt. That's so interesting. I think most non-Hindus think they are polytheistic. I guess this idea is similar to the Holy Trinity in Christianity?

Anonymous said...

cairo - yes, I think it would depend on if the man actually was the breadwinner, but like you said - many times that's not the situation.

It appears to be kind of like the Holy Trinity idea, sort of, but it's confusing so I'm not sure. :D

struggling said...

Just curious where on earth does Saudi get these numbers from ??

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter who is the breadwinner? everybody is equal, yes different but equal. so why deifferent ammounts

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Struggling: I have absolutely no idea.

Anon: I personally think men and women should get the exact same amount, regardless of who the breadwinner is. I was just trying to see why Saudi would put 2 different amounts, and one idea is that the man gets more because he is usually the breadwinner and thus the family won't have an income if he gets killed. This doesn't mean I agree with this policy.
What bothers me is the message Saudi is sending with this, i.e. that a woman is half a man or that a man should be the breadwinner.

Thanks for posting.

Lisa said...

I wonder if there are stats on how much this has actually contributed to a spike in murders in the Kingdom?

Much like Dateline and 48 Hours here in the states, we find that many husband and wife killers do it for the insurance benefits.

Heck, $100,000 is pretty good. Knowing I'd get that to off one Muslim relative, well wow, I know how much money I'd make...

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Lisa: there are hardly any stats on Saudi in general I think, so I doubt we'd be able to find stats on how much this has affected the murder rate.
I really want to know the rate for Jews!

ellen557 said...

Replying so late to this: I wonder if there have been any demonstrations etc against these prices?

Noooo I doubt it. Considering that they are either there illegally or if they are employed, then their employer usually has their passport with them. :( Employers also control their "iqamas", or permits to be in the country. They can have them taken away in a second.
I actually don't think that 100,000 riyals for a man is that much either! That's only somewhere around 30,000 USD :S eek.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Ellen: the prices ARE very low...I wonder how they calculate them?
There are hardly ever any demonstrations in Saudi BY Saudis themselves so I doubt foreigners could do anything. It's so sad what you said about how their passports get taken away :/

Faith in Writing said...

a)that a price is assigned to any life, and
b)that the prices vary on race and sex.

I'd personally hate to see what they'd price for minorities in the US or Australia... but then I think that's already plain enough to see by wars etc. Killing a bunch of Muslims overseas: all in a day's work for the army, men women and children included. The rare occurrence of local US citizens killed in sept 11: omg, these lives seemed to be worth gold each. It kind of doesn't make ANY sense to me.
I'm not saying sept 11 was deserved... but it showed how little the US cares about other people dying compared to their own people. Same here with army guys who get killed in Iraq etc. We get all these news shows when one of our soldiers dies but there's hardly a report of deaths caused by them over there.

Faith in Writing said...

I doubt there would be a rate for Jews. Aren't they not even allowed in there? You can't travel to many Muslim countries if you have the stamp from Israel on your passport... so I doubt they'd be letting Jews themselves in. You get a separate piece of paper when you go into israel and they stamp that instead.

Mo-ha-med said...

I've known Jewish people - french, american - who have been to Saudi. There's no control on that.

I am a bit skeptical about this 'pricelist' simply because Saudis don't view the world primarily on religious lines but on xenophobic ones. Saudis are dealt with according to one set of regulations, foreigners - be they muslim or hindus - with a completely different set. In case of an altercation between a Saudi and a foreigner, the Saudi is always right.

I often visit Saudi and hear the most awful stories about how foreigners are treated (with the blog owner's permission, this is an entry i wrote last year about the subject).

Frankly, I'd be surprised if any foreigner got a penny of deyya.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Mo-ha-med: that's interesting. Do Saudis break things down first according to Saudi/non-Saudi and then maybe according to religion? E.g. would a non-Saudi Muslim be better treated than a non-Saudi non-Muslim? Also aren't Saudi shiites treated much worse than Saudi sunnis? Just wondering if being Saudi is all that matters or whether religion also makes a difference.

I read your post, what a horrible story :( I've heard so many stories about how Saudis treat their domestic workers, I didn't realize they also did these things to all foreign workers.

Great blog by the way!

MuSLiMa FlOwEr said...

Istakhfurallah el 3azim. This is really really sad. I cant imagine putting a price on someone's life! and $888!!!! Are they kidding? For real? $888? Dont tell me the family accepts this!

Salam 3alaykum sister.
Love ur blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey lady,

Looking through your old stuff, and wanted to comment on your old "Only in Saudi" post.

As far as prices for people goes.. My God, the more I read about Saudi, the more I am convinced that women there are truly oppressed. I have always tried to hold my tongue a bit on this subject because I have never been to Saudi personally...

But I must admit, this post reminds me of Blacks being 1/4 a human being to Whites, and women being treated as furniture to be bought and sold....

I fear I am growing very weary of Saudi culture in general..

Also, one of your previous posts talking about sexual harassment and how the guys stare, then cuss, etc..
If this is not abusive then what is? It is such an OBVIOUS form of ABUSE that I am laughing and disgusted all wrapped up in one.

They do it because they can.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. It's not only religious. It's foreigner vs Saudi. They say you don't get treated any differently or paid differently whether you are a Bangladeshi Hindu servant or a Bangladeshi Muslim servant. Also, the whole concept of deyya is unIslamic since according to the Qu'ran human life is priceless and capital punishment is required. Also, the Qu'ran allows men to marry Christian or Jew but in Saudi they can only marry Sunni Muslims. There is a national distinction as well. Men can marry any Sunni Muslim (although mistrustful of converts) whereas women can only marry a Saudi, Bahraini, Qatari, Yemeni, Omani or Emirati. A woman served 6 months prison for marrying a Sunni Egyptian. After they released her she had to go to Egypt coz she had to divorce if staying in Saudi. Saudi is more about nationalism than Islam. Btw these marriage laws are fact my Saudi friend told me. Education has to be piad for after primary school accounting for a high illiteracy rate especially in villages.