On death row for sorcery, maid spared by king

Updated 15 February 2014
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On death row for sorcery, maid spared by king

An Indonesian housemaid, on death row for sorcery, has been pardoned by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
“Ati Bt Abeh Inan, who has been languishing in Al-Ahsa jail for casting a magic spell on her employer and his family, has been released and sent back to Indonesia,” said Ahrul Tsani Fathurrahman, a spokesman for the Indonesian Embassy, on Wednesday.
“The embassy expresses its gratitude to King Abdullah and to authorities in Saudi Arabia for their cooperation in releasing Ati,” said Fathurrahman.
Ati hails from an impoverished region of Sukabumi in West Java.
The maid, who was reunited with her family this week in Indonesia, had been working for a Saudi family in Al-Ahsa since 2003.
“The case of Ati could be classified as a death-row case … as you know, practicing or using black magic, or what we call witchcraft, could lead to a death sentence in the Kingdom,” said Fathurrahman.
Her case was complex one because “her employer himself accused her of using black magic and allegedly forced her to admit the allegation,” he said.
She was then sentenced by Al-Ahsa General Court in 2003 by her admission of the allegation.
The spokesman was also asked about progress made in the case of another Indonesian housemaid due to be executed this month.
He said “Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad, a 40-year-old Indonesian female worker, has received clemency from her employer’s heirs upon condition that Satinah and her family pay SR7 million in blood money.”
Satinah may be executed this month if her family or the Jakarta government fails to raise the money.
Satinah is facing death for murdering her employer and fleeing with SR37,500 cash in 2007.
Fathurrahman said: “Satinah’s family has so far been able to collect SR4 million, including SR3 million in contributions by the Indonesian government.”
This also includes about SR500,000 donated by Indonesians and another SR500,000 from an unnamed Saudi donor.
“Satinah’s family, especially her only daughter, 20-year-old Nur Afriani, sincerely hopes that the victim’s heirs will accept SR4 million in blood money,” said Fathurrahman.
Nur was 11 when her mother left her in Indonesia.
Arab News asked the embassy about the date of execution if the demanded amount is not raised.
It suggested the Qassim governorate be contacted for details.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”