Last Friday, I read with interest the article by Sabria S. Jawhar in Arab News titled “Lashing to leash wrongdoers.” It was about a British national, Karl Andree. As a matter of fact, Britons are known for their respect for laws. Karl Andree has been sentenced to prison and lashing.
We all can understand the stress of being locked up in a foreign country. Many people have been asking various questions about the 74-year-old Briton who is reportedly a cancer survivor and has asthma. Shouldn’t he be in England enjoying his retirement? The Kingdom was not new to Andree. He had been working in Saudi Arabia for many years so presumably he knew the country’s law very well. He was arrested for making wine. Andree was transporting it in his car when he was stopped and subsequently arrested for his actions. Was he making wine for personal consumption or he was simply bootlegging to earn a few extra dimes? If we assume that he had manufactured it for personal consumption then why was he transporting it in his car? He did not even think twice about people’s health. We all are aware that alcohol is hazardous to health.
The moral of the story is that a 74-year-old grandfather with many health problems should have been worried about his health. Instead he was busy in illegal activities. Don’t get me wrong; I do feel sympathy for him due to his advanced age but not for his action. Let us be frank, his family and friends might have known about his actions and what he was doing. It would have been more beneficial for him if he was told to stop and return to the UK. If he is a three-time cancer survivor with other health problems and still making money by working in Saudi Arabia, then Saudi Arabia and Saudis are more caring and responsible than his family. And to my amazement, some of his family members have indicated to the British press that he was jailed and tortured in Saudi Arabia. Get real! Why would Saudis torture an old man who is only accused of making and transporting wine in his car. Andree’s case is making unnecessary waves in the relations between the two countries and unfortunately the British press is not helping.
It is true that lashing is not a picnic but many people around the world don’t understand that it is not a matter of inflicting pain but more of a moral punishment. In Shariah, lashing is done through a careful procedure, which is done by a very fine cane. The person conducting the lashing would put his elbow to his side. And never move it. It is only the quick movement of the hand from the wrist. Again, don’t get me wrong about lashing but it is not seen as frequent as people think. Before the lashing, a doctor is present and if the doctor sees any health problem, the sentenced is not carried out. It is not the pain it is the shame. Andree knew about the consequences of his action and he should be held accountable. As for the false reports about his mistreatment in Saudi jail, I will not even comment because we all know the truth and the British Embassy in the Kingdom is also aware of the real story.
Foreign nationals in any country should respect the laws of their host countries. If they can’t abide by the law, then they are not forced to stay. According to Andree’s wife, their appeal was particularly urgent because of his deteriorating health condition. Wasn’t this enough reason for his family to take care of the 74- year-old grandfather instead of leaving him abroad at a time when he has three children Hugh, 46, Kirsten, 45, and Simon, 33.
I wish Andree is reunited with his family in the near future but irresponsible comments from his family are thinning the sympathies for him. Finally, how many more years Andree was planning to stay in the Kingdom. I don’t think that Saudi Arabia is a retirement home for western expatriates.