While we’re calling out countries for their violations of human rights, let’s not forget Saudi Arabia. According to two sources (here and here), an Indian gardner in Saudi Arabia has been arrested for posting an image on Facebook (taken from the Internet, I think) of the Hindu god Shiva sitting on top of the Kaaba, the structure in Mecca that’s seen as Islam’s holiest site. Here’s the tweet, along with another one (and there are many) calling for his imprisonment and execution:
The Saudi’s charge, of course, is blasphemy, and although it’s not clear what fate Shankar will face, beheading is certainly a possibility. The original report is said to have appeared in the Indian paper The Hindu, but I can’t yet find any links beyond the two above. And yes, admittedly Shankar should have known what the consequences might be, but his stupidity is no excuse for what the Saudis are doing to him.
Even if Shankar isn’t killed, the imprisonment of someone for offending religious sentiments is reprehensible, and of course Islamic states are the worst offenders for that. If I have one hope for 2017 (beyond the vain hope that Donald Trump behaves like Obama), it’s that we not only recognize the horrendousness of punishing people for criticizing fairy tales, but, when we see countries doing that, start calling it out.
It’s time that the U.S. takes a harder line about human rights with this “ally” when, at the same time, it’s excoriating Israel, which would not punish someone who posted a picture of Muhammad on top of the Western Wall.