It takes a nation to protect the nation
Stones from the Glass House of Saud
by Aaron Eitan Meyer • Apr 19, 2010 at 10:07 am
On April 5, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Homaidan Ali Al-Turki's conviction on charges of forced slavery and sexual abuse. But the story here is not the criminal behavior of Al-Turki or even a growing number of similar cases of domestic slavery. It is the brazen attempt by the Saudi government to hinder U.S. law enforcement by positing Al-Turki, absurdly, as the victim of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias.
Their "evidence," set forth in their request to file an amicus curiae brief, consisted of a combination of questionable allegations and unsubstantiated assertions:
Here, a potential juror expressed a bias against Muslims. The court did not question the juror about this bias and refused to allow Petitioner to question the juror. In light of the prevalence of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment in the United States, this case was one in which there was a "significant likelihood" that racial, ethnic, and/or religious bias might taint jury deliberations and impair the jurors' ability to be fair and impartial.
The argument first avers that a "juror expressed bias." In actual fact, the Colorado appeals court that affirmed Al-Turki's conviction found that prior to serving, the juror in question "did not evince any concerns of bias toward defendant or the Islamic religion." Nor did his comments afterward "unequivocally express actual bias against defendant or his religion."
More significantly, the argument offers no substantive evidence to prove its central premise of prevalent "anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment in the United States," much less how that would relate to the case at hand.
But by far the most egregious aspect of the brief was the kingdom's temerity in lecturing the United States on the evils of discrimination in the trial setting. Saudi Arabia is a theocracy whose trial procedures, as explained in the Department of State's 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, explicitly accord second-class status to all non-Muslims and women:
The testimony of one man equals that of two women; judges may discount the testimony of non-practicing Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, or persons of other religions; and female parties in court proceedings such as divorce and family law cases must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf unless they decide to speak for themselves.
Saudi Arabia's brief was simply another Islamist attempt to chill law enforcement with unsubstantiated accusations of racism. This time, however, the Saudi glass house is on full display.
Aaron Eitan Meyer is assistant director at the Legal Project of the Middle East Forum.