A case of pardons, Chris De Burgh and curses

Good news reached us from Saudi Arabia this morning.

The BBC reports that King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes.

The horrific case was highlighted here last month. It involved a 19-year-old girl being attacked and raped by seven men. Her crime? She had been in a car with a man to whom she was neither related nor married at the time of the attack.

What was even more amazing was that her original sentence of 90 lashes and several months in jail was increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail after the defence lawyer lodged an appeal apparently he had no right to question the wisdom of Saudi justice!

Thankfully, our campaign and the voices of a few political heavyweights appears to have made a difference.

On a much less serious note, according to reports on Gigwise, Iran is set to play host to its first Western musician since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Now what name could possibly be suitable for such a momentous gig? U2, perhaps? Or maybe a classic Indie group like Manic Street Preachers?

No instead they have opted for Chris de Burgh.

To be honest it doesnt seem that well thought through to me. This, after all, is the same country that yesterday shut down 24 internet cafes as part of a broad crackdown on immoral behaviour in the Islamic state. Perhaps, as The Guardian suggests, the steamy lyrics of Lady in Red could well be a step too far. And surely the people of Iran have suffered enough? But then perhaps the image of President Ahmadinejad strutting his stuff to Who Pays The Ferryman could be enough to lift the mood of the nation.

Meanwhile on a personal note, I cant help feeling that Im slightly cursed.

Having started here as the press officer covering Asia, within my first week everything kicked off in Burma. And then it was the turn of Pakistan.

So I thought that surely I had escaped it all when I went on holiday to Luxor in Egypt.

No such luck. According to reports from the Associated Press today, the Egyptian security forces demolished 60 mud-brick homes near the Valley of the Kings, just a few miles away from where I was staying.

The move has left dozens of families homeless and enraged.

The authorities had accused the residents of robbing the tombs and selling artefacts to tourists a claim strongly denied.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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