There was a deafening silence from the British government over the impending crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia.
Will David Cameron continue to look the other way as the Gulf kingdom moves to flog an ailing British pensioner over possession of alcohol?
Karl Andree, a 74-year-old grandfather from south London, faces 350 lashes after bottles of homemade wine were reportedly found in his car last year by Saudi police. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the conservative Islamic country.
Despite his family’s desperate pleas that Andree might not survive the lashings, as he suffers from asthma and is weak after surviving cancer three times, Saudi authorities plan to go on with the sentence. Andree, who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for almost 25 years, has already spent more than a year in prison since being arrested.
“He is 74 years of age, has had cancer three times and his wife is dying in a home in the U.K.,” his son, Simon Andree, told The Sun. “He now needs medical care for his cancer and asthma, and there is no doubt in our mind that 350 lashes will kill him. We implore David Cameron to personally intervene and help get our father home. The Saudi government will only listen to him.”
Saudi Arabia hands down harsh punishments for violation of religious/cultural laws such as possession of alcohol while its own nationals – mostly belonging to the royal family – engage in heinous crimes like sexual assault in other countries and, more often than not, get away with it.
Last month, a Saudi prince Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was reportedly accused of attempting to force an employee to give him oral sex, before more reports of him sexually accosting five women surfaced. However, the prince mysteriously fled after paying a $300,000 bail bond.
Moreover, Western leaders have been criminally silent over abhorrent human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia – mostly due to vested economic and strategic interests.
Just last week Cameron tried to dodge questions about the U.K. government supporting Saudi allies regardless of the mass murder of civilians in Yemen, the criminal negligence in the recent Hajj stampede, and record number of executions, including al-Nimr’s much-documented crucifixion.
It remains to be seen if the British prime minister will turn a blind eye toward the Andree’s lashing over what was clearly not a life-threatening and/or endangering crime.