Saudi journalist to receive 60 lashes

From The Ottawa Citizen

Saudi court orders 60 lashes for female journalist

Woman sentenced for being employed by network that broadcast man’s sexual confessions

By Paul Handley, Agence France-PresseOctober 25, 2009

A Saudi female journalist said Saturday that a court has ordered her to receive 60 lashes for working at a television network that aired the sexual confessions of a man.

Rozana al-Yami said a judge in the Red Sea coastal town of Jeddah dropped all charges that she had been directly involved with the episode of a program on LBC, a Saudi-owned Lebanese network, in July.

However, Yami said the judge sentenced her to 60 lashes for having been a part-time employee for LBC’s Saudi operations. The judge mentioned LBC had lacked the appropriate operating licence, she said.

“It’s a punishment for all journalists through me,” Yami told AFP by telephone.

“They just said the channel was illegal. But the Saudi minister of information himself appeared on LBC a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

Saudi judges base their rulings on strict Islamic sharia law, but it was not immediately clear how the judge in this case reached the verdict.

Yami, 22, until recently a reporter for the Arabic women’s magazine Roaa, said she did not know when her sentence would be carried out. She does not plan an appeal, saying she feared she could end up with a harsher sentence.

Her sentencing comes after Saudi airline sales clerk Mazen Abdul Jawad was convicted of offensive behaviour and sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes on Oct. 7 for his appearance on the LBC show Bold Red Line, in which he talked about picking up girls and having sex with them.

Abdul Jawad’s lawyer Sulaiman al-Jimaie expressed shock at Yami’s sentence because she had nothing to do with him or the episode of the program he appeared in.

Jimaie said the court produced evidence that Yami had helped solicit people to appear on other episodes of Bold Red Line.

“It’s an incredible decision,” he said, comparing it to the recent trials in Sudan of female journalists for wearing “indecent” trousers.

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