tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chop Chop... is Mohamed Kohail next?

For sale: The life of a Canadian citizen on death row in Saudi Arabia. Goes by the name of Mohamed Kohail. Special 2-for-1 sale. Asking price: $5 million.

The article "Chop Chop Square" by Adam St. Patrick in the new issue of The Walrus magazine makes a heavy footprint on the hearts of those following the Kohail case. The author is reporting from... well, I think the title makes that plain. He witnesses a public beheading in Saudi Arabia, and wonders whether Mohamed Kohail will be next on the block.

It may not be long: in the latest serve-and-volley between Saudi courts, a lower court at the request of a higher court upheld its own earlier decision to uphold the death penalty against Mohamed Kohail for his part in the death of a schoolmate. [For more background on this convulution of justice, see our most recent Tuque Souq posting on the Kohail saga. Mohamed's younger brother Sultan Kohail also faces a possible death sentence.]

The Kohail case is a tragic casualty of the seemingly unending war between Saudi jurisprudence and Reason, underscored no more precisely than in Wednesday's Globe and Mail article which laid out the cogent argument that the Kohail brothers are now essentially being held for ransom--blood money--by the victim's family, which has the power to grant clemency.

As Mr. St. Patrick affirms in his article about the Saudi system of capital punishment: "[A]t any time until the sword strikes, a victim’s family can pardon the condemned — usually for a cash settlement of at least two million riyals ($690,000 or so) from the convict or his family."

Except that in the case of the Kohail brothers, the asking price is almost ten times that: $5 million, according to the report in the Globe.

Amnesty International has issued an "urgent action" petition for clemency, indicating that the successful application of swift, direct pressure on Saudi Arabia from the outside--don't bother turning your head, Mr. Prime Minister, we are looking at you--is now the only way to save the Kohails.

Or five million bucks. Hey, why don't we ask some of those folks who are paying off Somali pirates?

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