Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah marked the first day of Hajj by pardoning the so-called Qatif girl, who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison because she was traveling with a man when she was attacked and gang-raped. The Saudi justice minister said that, despite the pardon, the king was “convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair.”
Today the Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheikh, told Al Jazirah newspaper that the decision was based on concern for Qatif girl’s welfare.
“The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,” he said.
The decision represents a softening approach towards the rape victim. The justice ministry had defended the woman’s punishment, branding her an adulteress who “provoked the attack” because she was “indecently dressed”.