Recently, a Sri Lankan maid by the name of Rizana Nafeek was accused of strangling a baby under her care and was beheaded in Saudi Arabia. This has sparked a big controversy of how Saudi Arabia treats its migrant workers and women. Here is my problem with the extremists on both sides – extremists that are against Saudi Arabia and would like to bash Saudis and Salafis at any given opportunity would like to paint this beheading as an example of how Saudis treat women or people who are not Saudis. They wouldn’t like to state the fact that a vast majority of people that get beheaded in Saudi Arabia are men and this includes Saudis as well. Extremists on the other end would like to say that there is nothing unfair about the killing of Rizana Nafeek and that she was a murderer that deserved death.
Here is my stance on this. If Rizana Nafeek, in fact, intentionally strangulated a baby (what her employer said) without the baby accidentally choking to death (what Nafeek said) then OF COURSE Nafeek needs to be beheaded because that is the law of the land of Saudi Arabia. How dare governments of other countries tell Saudi Arabia to not enact the law of capital punishment (the prescribed law of the land for murder)? It’s like the Saudis telling the US to not convict a person, found guilty for monetarily contributing to Hamas or other terrorist organizations according to the US charter, on terrorism charges. Every country has their laws and it is their right to enact them – if you don’t like the law then challenge it or don’t live in the country that has that law, but don’t tell someone to not enact a law after a crime has been committed. Getting back to Nafeek – if she did not intentionally strangle the baby and his death was in fact an accident then the Saudis cannot execute her. Even Islam does not mandate death for accidental killing of a person – which would be termed manslaughter according to the US terms.
It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood- money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you, and he is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise. [4:92]
It is obvious from the verse that the Saudis, if in fact, are trying to establish the Sharia punishment for accidental manslaughter then executing the killer is not the right punishment. Paying blood money to the relatives of the killed baby is the right punishment. But the Saudis insist that the maid intentionally murdered the baby so in their eyes – the punishment is right.
But here is the thing – no one opposed to the Saudis is raising the point that perhaps the Sri Lankan maid was innocent of the crime she was convicted of AND that it doesn’t matter if it’s a poor Sri Lankan maid that killed or a rich Saudi – they both deserve execution for intentional cold-blooded murder (under the Saudi law and being poor doesn’t mean your life gets spared if you commit murder) AND that it’s not the punishment that they are contesting (if it were fair) but the proceedings of the court (and the claims of the dead baby’s parents). This beheading has again been turned into a political circus to bash Saudis and their supposed hate for women. Nothing will come out of it because hate from one side (those opposed to the Saudis) and a sense of victimhood (from the Saudi side) will prevail.