A 13-year-old Saudi schoolgirl is to be given 90 lashes in front of her classmates after she was caught with a mobile camera phone.
The girl, who has not been named, was also sentenced to two months in jail by a court in the eastern city of Jubail.
She had assaulted her headmistress after being caught with the gadget which is banned in girl schools, said Al-Watan, a Saudi newspaper. The kingdom’s use of such punishments has been widely condemned by human rights organisations.
Three years ago 16 schoolchildren, aged between 12 and 18, were each sentenced to between 300 and 500 lashes for being aggressive to a teacher.
Under Saudi’s Sharia or Islamic law, flogging is mandatory for a number of moral offences such as adultery or being alone in the company of an unrelated person of the opposite sex. But it can also be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or in addition to other punishments.
Al-Watan said a court in the northeastern Gulf port of Jubail had sentenced the girl to 90 lashes inside her school, followed by two months’ detention.
The punishment is harsher than tha dished out to some robbers and looters.
Saudi Arabia, a leading US ally in the Middle East, is an absolute monarchy controlled by the Al-Saud ruling tribe, and lacks any legal code.
King Abdullah has promoted some social reforms since taking the throne in 2005 but diplomats say he is held back by religious clerics and princes.
Cinemas and music concerts are banned, while many restaurants and even some shopping centres cater to families only, especially on holidays.
Religious police roam streets to make sure no unrelated men and women mix.
The Saudi court system is exclusively controlled Wahahbi/Salafi clerics, and bans the employment of non-Salafi citizens, especially as judges.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading country in the use of torture-by-flogging, public beheadings and publically crucifying condemned prisoners.
The country crucified two people in 2009, including one in the capital Riyadh during President Barak Obama’s visit last April.
In September, 20 Saudi teenagers who ransacked shops and restaurants were publicly flogged.
Newspapers reported that the teenagers received at least 30 lashes each in a public square.
Most of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks in 2001 came from Saudi Arabia.