Ghazi Algosaibi, an author and supposed liberal, was sent to London to seek to improve his country's image in the British media, to help bridge the cultural divide. That cultural chasm yawns widely. Amnesty is opposed to capital punishment. Muslims are not.
'One billion Muslims,' the ambassador asserted, 'believe that the Koran is the sacred word of God - and that punishments specified in the Koran are binding for all time. It is amazing that Amnesty International continues to show such obvious contempt for the beliefs of all Muslims by insisting that capital punishment as specified by the Holy Koran 'is the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment'. One wishes and prays that those in charge of this organisation will spare some time and effort defending the victims and not the murderers.
'Furthermore, one wishes that Amnesty International, which purports to believe in freedom, will allow other people the freedom of adopting the legal system of their choice.'
The ambassador's riposte ignores the key issue of whether the condemned men had fair trials. Amnesty said 105 people were executed in Saudi Arabia last year. While Islamic law prescribes the death penalty for several offences, scholars insist that conditions must be met. In cases of adultery, for example, four eye-witnesses must stand up in court and state unequivocally that they observed the act of penetration; alternatively one of the parties may confess voluntarily. Amnesty accused the Saudis of using torture to extract confessions.