Comparing Crime and Punishment In Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State
Few things anger the current Saudi government more than comparing them to the so-called Islamic State. However, there is no denying that the ultra-conservative brand of Wahhabi Islam that both parties propose are closely related, if not nearly identical. When pressed on the issue, Saudi government representatives tend to answer that their punishments are doled out after a trial by court, and that Sharia is closely followed.
The difference being that the Islamic State hands out these kinds of punishments indiscriminately and chaotically. Perhaps there’s truth to this, but it seems that if there thing separating your sentencing laws from a terrorist group is a technicality, then there may be something wrong.
The types of crimes that carry the most severe penalties, under Sharia, are hadd crimes, or crimes against God. However, before the Islamic State came about, the traditional punishments were rarely applied anywhere in the world except in Saudi Arabia. Critics of these types of sentences rightly point out that the punishments are ahistorical and unreasonable. Perhaps the fact that a group as fanatical as the Islamic State is using them indiscriminately may help enlighten the ultra-conservative clerics in Saudi Arabia that, in this case, they may not be on the right side of the law.
Of course, the West (and the vast majority of Muslims) view Saudi criminal punishments as completely barbaric. The fact that they exist discredit Islam, making it vastly more difficult for Muslims around the world to peacefully practice their religion without prejudice or Islamophobia. It is somewhat understandable that a fear of Islam would exist, when one considers that the punishment for adultery is still death by stoning in what is supposedly a civilized nation.
In the case of blasphemy, acts of homosexuality, treason, and murder both the Islamic State and Saudi Arabia sentence those convicted to the death penalty. In both cases, the death penalty is carried out publicly and by beheading. Unfortunately, the accusation of “treason” has been used often by both parties to simply execute anyone that they would consider problematic, such as political dissidents or, in the case of the Islamic State, someone owning a property or goods that the Islamic State would want to seize. The punishment for slander and drinking alcohol in the Islamic State is flogging, eighty lashes to be specific. In Saudi Arabia it’s at the discretion of a judge. Adultery when married is punished by stoning, and if not married the punishment is one hundred lashes. Stealing and theft are still punished by amputation, perpetuating a horrible stereotype about Arabs. In the case of murder and theft, ISIS prescribes crucifixion. At least in that one case, the Islamic State is just a little bit more barbaric than the Saudi government.