British expat Karl Andree faces 350 lashes from the Saudi Arabian authorities for brewing home-made wine.
Mr. Andree was arrested in Jeddah in 2014 after being pulled over by police and found to be carrying home-made wine in his car. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison, of which he has already served 12, whilst he awaits the final corporal punishment of his sentence to be carried out.
Saudi Arabia, recently chosen by the United Nations to chair an independent panel on human rights, has already come under fire for sentencing a teenager to death by crucifixion for being in the general vicinity of a protest march, 10 years and 1,000 lashes for somebody who wrote a blog, and declaring atheism a form of terrorism in 2014.
The fact that alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia should be listed in and of itself as a crime against humanity, because the wonderful taste and sensation of the fermented grape is a human right that should be denied to nobody, except perhaps people who have recently split up and randomly text their ex at 3 o’clock in the morning after trying to find solace in a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mr. Andree, who lived in Saudi Arabia for 25 years, must clearly have been aware of the fact that alcohol and other intoxicants are forbidden by the strict adherence of the country to Islamic law, and many would argue that if you choose to live in a foreign country then you are obliged to obey the laws of the land, or simply do what most wine-loving Saudis do – which is pootle over the border to Bahrain of a weekend, where alcohol is legal – and not risk incarceration by trying to find paradise before dying.
The British pensioner, however, is 74 years of age, has been receiving treatment for three different forms of cancer, has a wife who is slowly dying of dementia in a care home in the UK, three children and seven grandchildren. They are, needless to say, very rightly worried that Mr. Andree will not survive, because it’s not like he’s going to be paddled on the bottom for being a naughty boy, he’s going to be mercilessly flogged with a fuckoff big wooden stick.
Adherence to the law of the land – however daft it might appear as we relish the sound of popping corks – is, of course, the sensible thing to do. A 14 month jail sentence and a public flogging, however, isn’t. Possibly a stern telling off and a hefty fine might have done the trick, and be more in keeping with subscription to the concept of ‘Human Rights’. What say you, Chairperson?