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back to article Human rights group pleads for condemned Saudi 'witch'

Campaigning group Human Rights Watch has petitioned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to halt the execution by beheading of a "witch" who in 2006 was convicted of "witchcraft, recourse to jinn [supernatural beings], and slaughter of animals". Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali is currently languishing in Quraiyat Prison having "exhausted her …

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How strange...

... the calender in my taskbar says 2008.

NOT FUCKING 1692.

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Muslims aren't barbarians, eh?

Could have fooled me, with this story... "Islam the religion of peace and tolerance" seems to be more and more like saying "Bush is the hero of the world" you know?

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IT Angle

Now that makes me laugh..

A sad, pathetic laugh, but still.

I mean, think on it: if the girl HAD witch powers, enough to enchant/impotentize/etc .. erm, why not simply enchant a guard to let her go? Enchant the judge to put a death sentence on the guards? Enchant the witnesses to "forget" their need to, well, be a witness. Summon a djinn to attack the guards?

Common sense doesn't seem to reign over there, nor does intelligence. Just a bunch of arrogant, self-important, immoral, morons.

Nothing new here folks, nothing new.

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Happy

does she?

weigh as much as a duck? Thats the only real test isn't it?

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geeze

Geeze... Even skipping past actually having laws about witchcraft in the 21st century (surrealistic as that is by itself), excuse me? Courts there can sentence someone to death on a "discretionary" basis? And that doesn't go through appeal?

Now _that_ is a screwed up system.

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Anonymous Coward

This is just par for the course for the Saudis!

You can read more about Saudi Arabia's perverse justice system in "Part 2" here:

http://www.asecondlookatthesaudis.com

They often use charges of "witchcraft," "blasphemy" or "apostasy," all of which are capital offenses under Saudi Arabia's version of Islamic law, to persecute religious minorities (especially Shia and Sufi Muslims), and to settle contract disputes with foreign workers.

The whole Saudi "Justice System" is a grotesque abomination. But of course, that is the least of our problems with the Saudis.

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Paris Hilton

In their own words...

This article is obviously a hoax. I can prove it by quoting from the saudi embassy website...

http://www.saudiembassy.net/Country/Government/GovDetail5.asp

"Shari’ah presumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and only in serious crimes or in cases of repeat offenders is one likely to witness severe punishments."

"[Saudi Arabia] is a nation marked by sophisticated political, legal, and financial systems..."

So there you have it. PROOF.

(Paris because, she would probably have similar logic, (and I want to bang her too))

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As long as you have oil.

Saudi Arabia is like a modern version of the Russian Empire where the ruling class was too slow, too stupid, too sleepy, to stay in power using democracy.

Mercy for the witch, perhaps we killed them all in Norther Europe a long time ago.

No way to make this funny, really. Delete.

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I wonder

will Speilberg show the strength of his convictions on this one?

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Witch on trial

As previously stated the Moslem world is at least 200 years from civilization.

I believe the West dropped the trials about 200 years ago. 1824 was the las execution for heresy.

Doesn't matter how many are harvard educated if this is the result.

JPT

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Stupid...

Stupid, primitive, superstitious idiots. It's intensely worrying that these people are planning to go into space and develop advanced technology; they're children.

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Stop

Woowoo I don't think so....

I know for a fact that she is innocent.

How can I be so sure?

No evidence exists that witchcraft can be used to cause impotence or have any other effect for that matter, indeed there is no evidence that witchcraft and other woowoo has any basis in fact.

Indeed there is a 1 million dollar (US) prize awaiting the first person who can.

Incidentally a similar argument could be made for Islam for their love of the sky god.

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Good vs Evil

I can't remember who said it but:

"Good men will by their nature do good. Evil men will by their nature do evil. It takes religion to make good men do evil."

Assuming the judges are good men, of course.

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Rob
Paris Hilton

laugh or cry?

I can only hope this is a joke/misunderstanding of some sort, i mean convicted of witchcraft in this day & age?? or do they have proof of 'witchery' that we don't know of?

on the other hand, I'd accept a broomstick as a substitute for my flying car, just show me a real witch & i'm there, I'm sure we could solve many problems with a judicious application of magic.

Do those dumb ass saudis still get pissed off if people go around saying the world orbits the sun, not vice-versa, or that it's is not actually flat?

Paris, 'cause even she wouldn't believe in witches any more.

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I've seen this!

Oooh! Oooh! I saw something like this recently! Let me see, where was it?

Oh yes! It was a movie on television about the witch trials in Germany based on the Malleus Maleficarum in 1487!

Does that mean the Saudi justice system is 520 years behind ours? Are they catching up?

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Coat

Did the judges inquire...

...whether the witch weighs the same weight as a duck ?

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Flame

Nice...

Now I know why we're such close allies of Saudi Arabia here in the US.

We're trying to copy their legal system.

We already have detention and torture without presentation of evidence and judicial oversight (Rendition anyone?)

Slowly we're moving a step at a time down this road - we just use a different word... we don't call them witches, we call them 'Suspected Terrorists'

Maybe that's what Saudi should call her - seems to stop any charges coming at the current US administration...

Come on Saudi, get people off your back, call her a suspected Metaphysical Terrorist.

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Alert

Hey, Coward,

If you think the justice in the systems in the U.S. is even remotely similar to the Saudi's system, then you are either ignorant (which can be cured with study) or just plain stupid (no cure possible).

Which is it?

The U.S. system isn't perfect. Damn site far from it actually. But on that road, the U.S. is a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT FURTHER ALONG than the Saudi's are, or possibly ever will be.

Look at this way: If the Saudi's had caught the "detainees" in the same situation that we did, they wouldn't have been detained, they would have been shot on site.

Oh, and look! I can use the Coward method too!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Muslims aren't barbarians, eh?

At least she got a trial - GBay people are still waiting for theirs...

I dare say the trial will be just as impartial :S

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Gates Halo

poor witch

typical... maybe the archbishop should preside over the ceremony

but seriously the more educated higher ranks will save her... right?

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The Saudis already have the GW clan in their pockets

So I fail to see the need to kill 'witches'. Yes it'll probably please the wingnuts that run our country, after all they've been searching for reasons to push revisionist Christianity (money is good, killing is good, discrimination is good, etc) down our throats - and a decent witch burning is just the thing to help them promote their 'war on terror', or whatever they call it now.

Shame of it is the Saudis preferred method of witch termination is probably a beheading.

Seriously though, how can we condone trading with and supporting a country that commits such human rights violations, and then criticise Iran or China with a straight face?

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Paris Hilton

@ The Saudis already have the GW clan in their pockets

and a decent witch burning is just the thing to help them promote their 'war on terror', or whatever they call it now.

Shame of it is the Saudis preferred method of witch termination is probably a beheading.

Ironically the burning of witches (usually Female) in england largely started because of a reluctance on the part of the authorities to shed the blood of a woman.

Paris - Because none of it makes any sense.....

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Muslims?

This has absolutely f***-all to do with Islam. There are plenty of muslims in the UK that would shake their head in disbelief at this, just as they would at the Saudi bans on women drivers, the cartoon controversy and so on.

If you want to have a crack at the pig-ignorant Saudi social and justice systems I'll back you to the hilt. But broadening your target to the religion of 1 billion people, the vast majority of whom are decent and peacable despite what you see on Fox, is not a very educated thing to do.

You might as well blame the paedophile lynch-mobs whipped up by the News Of The World on the Anglican Church. Or Waco and Abortion Clinic bombings on Christianity.

Until you can learn to distinguish between the two you're guilty of the same sin as those who target "the west". In other words, you're part of the problem.

</vent>

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Unhappy

And we're flogging em Typhoons FFS

Why are we selling a barbarous regime like this advance fighter aircraft? Must have something to do with our ethical foreign policy maybe?

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we're so much more advanced than they are

After all, we did tape the eyes of those we electrocuted so they didn't explode...even if we later found they weren't guilty.

And it was a real military doctor who was injecting plutonium into all of those folks in the US to see what effect it would have, not some backwards tribal. That's good, isn't it?

The list is long, and the "yea me, fuck you" mentality lives on.

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Re:Woowoo I don't think so....

"No evidence exists that witchcraft can be used to cause impotence or have any other effect for that matter, indeed there is no evidence that witchcraft and other woowoo has any basis in fact.

Incidentally a similar argument could be made for Islam for their love of the sky god."

Incidentally, another similar argument could be made that religion in general (Christianity, Cathlocism, whichever) has no factual legs to stand on, so to speak. It gets around the need for proof with the "need to have faith" argument.

In fact, it wasn't THAT many years ago that this country (UK) had no religion, but then the church bullied and used scare tactics to "convert" the population. The sad thing is that most people who claim to be religious, actually follow the religion not out of love for their "god" but out of fear for his retribution. What sort of organisation bases its recruitment around fear, because that's exactly how most religions operate?

I liken religion to one of those chain letters (or emails) that come around saying "if you don't do this, you'll have bad luck for all eternity". And not surprisingly, just like those chain mails, I have no time for them.

Personally, I consider myself agnostic. Sure, there might be an afterlife, or a god, or something, but I'm not going to spend my life searching for answers, or fearing what may happen.

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Coat

She's a witch, burn her.

She turned me into a newt,

well I did get better.

mines the polished metal coat, with accompanying helmet.

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Malleus Maleficarum

The thing is that Malleus Maleficarum was the work of two deranged guys, and largely condemned by the church and leading theologians even at that time. They forged an endorsement by the same theologians which actually condemned it as bullshit, unethical and illegal. The catholic church placed the book on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1490, i.e., banned it.

That wasn't even something new, as the catholic church had given up on witchcraft trials even earlier in other places. The church was more concerned with suppressing heresy within the church, than with witchcraft.

That's not to say that witchcraft trials didn't continue to exist, but by then they were local madnesses and illegal by the standards of both the church and the empire.

So, I don't know, it seems to me that Saudi law is even farther behind. Try 1000 years behind European law and...

Well, no, not even then. Europe never had such a thing as officially giving discretionary power to the judges, even if no law has been broken. We had not only the Roman code of laws, but the Franks had a quite extensive code of laws too. Even unjust (by modern standards) trials like the inquisition, were strongly ruled by laws and internal regulations.

The idea that a judge can discretionarily sentence someone to death, even without proof that they did anything wrong, just didn't exist as accepted legal procedure.

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It would be funny...

...if it wasnt for the fact some poor lass was going to die.

Firstly a witch could, surely, just bewitch her way out of it, couldnt she? I seem to recall a bit from one of the Harry Potter books about how witches just cast a simple spell and felt a slight tingle when being burned.

The fact the appeal courts said they cant kill her, then lower courts overuled her, whats that about?

The world is a mess, and the sooner we blow ourselves up the better

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Not just in other countries

There was a woman arrested, tried, convicted, and spent years in prison in the UK during the second world war, specifically on charges of witchcraft.

Maybe less barbaric than in Saudi, but it still caused her premature death.

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Is Muslims’ Treatment of Women Islamic?

Is Muslims’ Treatment of Women Islamic?

On March 11, 2002, fire struck a girls’ school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The religious police locked the schoolgirls inside the inferno rather than let them escape without their head-to-toe cloak. The firemen were prevented from entering the school for fear that the girls would be seen without their covering. Fourteen young girls were burned to death and dozens more were injured.

Is this treatment Islamic?

To answer this question, a comparison will be made between the fine treatment that the Prophet Muhammad reportedly accorded to His first wife Khadija and the treatment of women that evolved under Sharia (Islamic Law).

We are told that Khadija was the best born, a rich businesswoman who employed Muhammad, proposed marriage to him when He was 25 years of age. She was 15 years his senior and twice a widow. For the 25 years of their marriage, the Prophet remained monogamous. Khadija was the one person to whom He turned for advice. She was the first convert to Islam.

The difference between the Prophet’s treatment of Khadija and the treatment of women under Sharia Law is stark.

The Quran subordinates women to men [Verses 2:228 (Chapter 2, Verse 228], 4:34, and 18:46). It decrees that one man is equal to two women when bearing witness in a legal setting (2:282), that a male’s share in inheritance is equal to that of two females (4:11), that a man can have up to four wives simultaneously, on condition of equitable treatment (4:3), that a husband can divorce his wife without giving reason, though the Prophet reportedly discouraged divorce.

Allowing the Muslim male to marry four wives simultaneously and divorce any one of them without giving cause is synonymous with unlimited polygamy.

Additionally, Shiite religious scholars interpret Verses 4:4 and 4:24 as if men are allowed a temporary marriage contract, called Mut’a, for which a payment to the woman is made for her services for a predetermined period of time.

Sunnis sanction the Misyar marriage. Here, the couple lives apart; the woman relinquishes her right to have financial support and accepts the man’s visits in her family house. Misyar has been sanctioned by the Islamic Jurisprudence Assembly on April 12, 2006 and by the Grand Muftis of Saudi Arabia and Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Misyar and Mut’a marriages are sanctioned adultery.

The Sunna (sayings and acts attributed to the Prophet) too contains Traditions unflattering to Women. Al-Bukhari attributed to the Prophet saying that most of those who are in hell are women, that women’s lack of intelligence is the reason why a woman’s witness testimony in an Islamic court of law is equal to half that of the Muslim male, and that the reason why Muslim women are prohibited from praying and fasting during menstruation is due to them being deficient in religious belief. Al-Nasai attributed to the Prophet saying: People who entrust the management of their affairs to a woman will fail.

Sharia Law is not applied uniformly in Muslim countries. In Saudi Arabia, Sharia means, among others, strict segregation of the sexes at work, schools, hospitals, shops, public parks, elevators, let alone guardianship by the male in the family. Al-Bukhari’s attributions became a common popular Saudi proverb: women are light on brains and religion.

Saudi Sharia eliminates the potential political opposition of one half of the population to the government.

By contrast, in Muslim non-Arab Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey, Sharia means that women can be presidents and prime ministers.

Harmonizing Sharia with the Sunna is critical. Tenth century Ulama turned the Sunna into a source of Sharia equal to the Quran.

In June 2006, Turkey formed a committee of thirty-five scholars to study the removal of Prophetic attributions that encourage violence against women.

Elie Elhadj; Author: The Islamic Shield

http://www.universal-publishers.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1599424118

Blog: http://journals.aol.com/eeh100/daring-opinion/

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@ Muslims?

Erm, as a matter of fact I *do* blame Waco and abortion clinic bombings on Christianity - at least in part. Oh, that's not 'true' Christianity? Well, they say they're going on the Bible, same as all the others who profess themselves Christian - and short of a personal appearance by Jesus, we can't really know who's right.

So many Muslims think it's ridiculous too? Great, good for them. I never doubted it. But it doesn't necessarily follow that Islam is entirely blameless for what this poor women's going through.

Christianity, Islam, religion in general - the basic problem is the same; the glorification of irrationality. The idea that it's somehow *virtuous* to believe utterly in something for which there is not a shred of proof. It's high time humanity grew the hell up and stopped running its life according to the whims of its various imaginary friends.

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Unhappy

It's a question of concept

The human rights people have an upward struggle ahead of them, as the Saudi Government and Legal system only recognise men as human, while women there are the recognised as property of a lesser standing than cattle or sheep, and thus have no human rights at all.

And to think that our last conservative government was busy selling jets to these people (John Major used it as part of his defence against Simon Regan's allegations of having an affair), Churchill was involved heavily in the middle east before the second world war. Sounds about ripe for plucking if you go by previous contacts - Iraq, Afghanistan to name but two - in fact ever since the British took hold of the Opium Trade in the late 1800's the whole of the middle east has been pretty much screwed - and if you want to go further back, then you've got the crusades, the moors, et. al. There is no real solution here, fanaticism rules, and when that happens, there are no rights.

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IT Angle

Who says she's not a witch?

We don't know the full story here. Let's not jump to any conclusions.

- Unfortunately, capital punishment doesn't leave any room for error.

- Confession during torture is abhorrent.

- Mercy is better than justice.

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bunch of delusional camel jockeys

How can a nation still be so rooted in the dark ages? If someones life wasn't in the balance i would be rolling on the floor absolutely pissing myself with laughter at the crock of shite that is the Saudi judicial system. Has no one thought to point out to them that witchcraft is actually complete bollocks, and the guy who claims he is now a jaffa should actually go see his doctor instead?

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"Indeed there is a 1 million dollar (US) prize awaiting the first person who can"

Hmmm....

I'd like to see proved that I am not just a brain on a jar with 'feeding' tubes attached; and that you lot are not all just figments of my imagination. Anyone fancy stumping up some prize money to encourage folk to try ? :-)

What one person accepts as proof, another can dispute.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Sure the behaviour of a particular Moslem country's legal system doesn't necessarily mean that the Moslem religion as a whole is the problem, But when this sort of problem happens again and again in the same countries, and appears to be rooted in the harsh interpretation of that religion's teachings, and apparently supported by the religion's authority figures within the country, one can only assume there's no connection for so long before starting to feel it is stretching credulity a bit too far.

No country or religion comes out squeaky clean when 'put under the microscope', but some combinations seem to have a particular problem.

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Anonymous Coward

>recourse to jinn [supernatural beings]

Of course, if you're a muslim you know that jinn don't exist - for there is only one god. Therefore she can't possibly be guilty of recoursing to them, because they aren't there.

Innocent clearly.

As for the idea of an offence against god, an all powerful, omnipotent god?

Well, let god do as god will. (Probably nothing, usually does nowt).

@Russian Empire where the ruling class was too slow (...) to stay in power using democracy.

Which democratic Russian empire was this?

The current Russian government seem to be doing well with the first democracy the country has ever had.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

Can we all please just bin religions and move on with something useful? In this enlightened age we no longer need sky fairies.

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Pirate

US in dark ages too

so saudi is in the dark ages on this witchcraft thing - agreed.

but what about the death penalty?

another barbaric practice from the dark ages outlawed in civilised europe, south america, canada, australia etc. - but somehow rampant in the US & middle east.

to the AC's peddling the superiority of the US judicial system - think again!

I think you'll find the US has more in common with Saudi than the UK or France....

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Alien

Re: Hey Coward

(Ironic that you posted anonymously) The US *used* to be far ahead of this sort of thing. They're backsliding. Just change "Witch" to "Terrorist", "Jinn" to "Islamic Extremists", "Enchantment" to "Bomb".

Though the rest of the west can get nearly as het up if you change "Witch" to "Paedophile", with the same level of accuracy in the determination of the accusation...

Humans. What a waste of space you are.

Uh, I mean We are...

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@JonB

Tsar Nicolas II grudgingly gave an elected parliament (Duma) some powers, only to withdraw them later (the Duma was reinstated/disbanded a number of times). The earlier Alexander II clearly meant to institute a parliamentary democracy but was assassinated before he could sign the law (some sources claim he was assassinated the day before he was to sign it. Alexander III was WAY different and would have nothing to do with it. So there were some attempts at democracy in Tsarist Russia, but they came to nothing.

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Gates Horns

Perhaps she has...

Jedi mind powers as well? Yahoo could make good her escape and utilise her powers against Ballmer "You will give us $80Billion...You will dance around on stage like a monkey. Again."

I'm being silly you say? The Saudi Judicial System started it....

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Paris Hilton

Time zone change?

I recall some British Caledonian pilot (remember them?) being disciplined for announcing "We are now coming in to land at Riyadh ... please put your watches back 600 years".

(Paris, because she'd probably try to do it for real.)

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Paris Hilton

she turned me into a newt..!!

I got better..!!

come to think of it, she cast a spell on me which renders me unconscious close to the end of every day. Thankfully this only lasts 7-8 hours and i regain consciousness - but i remember almost nothing from these missing hours except occasionally fleeting images, disjointed - it's quite disturbing. Who nose what she bade me do during this time.

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Anonymous Coward

@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

I stand corrected^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H ..erm... embellished?

Many monarchs have been in a position of dependency upon variously, the masses, the nobility or foreign powers but they're still monarchies.

The monarchy in Britain still has a royal veto, (last used in 1999 I believe) since this is a hereditary and absolute power (can block all bills) Britain is not a democracy and hasn't been so since the restoration.

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@Ruana and others

Because obviously all the worlds ills will be solved by binning faith. I mean all those kids running rampage on the streets of Britain and British tourists running pissed up rampages abroad are all deluded Muslims and Christians aren't they?

Yes, atheists and agnostics are so much more enlightened. Perhaps the worlds ills are actually more likely caused by intolerant xenophobes and their kind, people who think they're clever and have something to prove because they believe in nothing. What a bright future that inspires. I know its difficult kids but lets all try and play nice together in the global sandpit.

</rant>

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@Robert

Yeah, yeah. You need more straw there?

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Alert

Royal Consent

JonB - nice little lie there. I would love to know which Bill the Queen threw out in 1999, since the last recorded veto of a bill was 1706.

You are aware of course that the US is not a democracy under similar standards. During a presidential election, each state's vote is passed onto the electoral college. These individuals in the electoral college always follow the popular vote, but have no requirement in law to do so. It would be perfectly legal for every electoral college vote to vote someone completely different in - say Santa Claus - even if they had no votes from the popular vote.

Of course, in the UK it is possible for the Prime Minister never to have been elected, since it is only a requirement for them to sit in either house. It is commonly accepted that the only reason Churchill became wartime PM was because Lord Halifax refused the position. Lord Halifax would have been an unelected PM.

Many "democratic" political systems around the world have these nuances. It doesn't mean they aren't fundamentally democratic.

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Jobs Horns

@JonB

I don't know the exact details of Britain's monarchy, but I believe you're still mostly ruled by a parliament. I wouldn't be hearing so much about what MP wants to do what, and what party is blamed for what problem, if that wasn't the case.

Absolute monarchy was a bit of a different beast. The tsar being an autocrat wasn't just a fact, but an official part of his imperial title. He was the law. Actually, let me rephrase that: the _whole_ law. There was no other law, precedent or regulation, other than whatever edicts the tsar fancied giving. Completely arbitrary and unchecked.

Pre-or post-restoration, Britain still had such notions as people having rights, or the monarch being supposed to at least consult the parliament. (If nothing else, to get any taxes.) When Charles I tried to circumvent that, well, that's what led to the civil war.

In tsarist Russia, you had no rights. They had an inflexible hierarchy where each level had pretty much absolute power over the people below, and was lawgiver, judge and jurry for them. The serfs were literally owned by the lord, and by the end of it had no rights at all and no land of their own, and were just supposed to work the owner's land 6 days a week. That's somewhat closer to what the west called "slaves", than to even western European serfdom. (Unpleasant as that was even in the west, mind you.) In fact, I believe that the Roman slaves had more rights than the Russian serfs, plus a decent chance of being eventually freed.

And the great nobles were at least supposed to unconditionally obey the tsar. He wasn't supposed to even ask their opinion on anything, unless he just happened to _want_ a second opinion or something. They didn't even have a House Of Lords, so to speak, and the concept of a House Of Commons would have been even more strange and alien to them.

That's why, for example, Peter the Great was able to pull stunts like the beard tax. It was something which was very unpopular with both the nobles _and_ the common folk, as it went against all local traditions and fashion, rather abruptly at that. But he didn't have to ask either of them what they think of his plan.

As Michael Wilkinson correctly noted, it was quite the uphill battle and it took some revolts to get a Duma (parliament) at all in the 18'th century, and even that mostly swung between being just an advisory body and banned yet again.

So, well, that a lot of monarchs fancy absolute power, is a given. But in Russia, they actually had it. It's a bigger difference than it sounds.

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Witchhunt

But Mr. Spielberg still does business with the Saudis anyway so they can't have violated any Human Rights, can they ??

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