Believe me, I was not aware of Marnie Pearce's conviction for adultery, and her subsequent appeal to the Emirates Appeals Court, when I wrote about the vagaries of the "rule of law" in Islamic countries.
Ms. Pearce was accused by her Egyptian ex-husband, Ihab El-Labban, of having an adulterous affair with her British boyfriend. She was convicted in November last year, and sentenced to six-months in prison. The Appeals Court upheld the conviction, but reduced Ms. Pearce sentence to three months in prison. The Court also fined her 3000 Dirhams ($800+), and ordered that she be deported from Dubai.
In the United Arab Emirates, considered by some as a moderate Islamic country, Sharia is the rule of law in the social sphere. If a man and a woman, who are not blood relatives or legally married, shared a flat, room, or even sat in a tinted car, they would be committing a crime, even if they did not have a sexual relationship. According to Dr Adel Khamis Al Mimari from Al Itazan Consultant and Advocates:
... they are being punished in accordance with Sharia law. The clause is known as “Tawajed” or “Tahseen Al Ma’asiya”. These couples have been punished under this clause: sharing a closed place and encouraging sin even though they shared no relationship.
He mentioned: “The bottom line is awareness. Many foreigners are not familiar with Sharia law and hence they are punished. If these couples go unnoticed, then there is no trouble. But if the authorities for some reason or another know they are sharing a 'closed space’ they can be punished. This is the law.”
There you have it. If you chose to visit, work, or reside in Dubai, you must respect its law. Even if that law is based on the Quranic
logic of a misogynistic vintage. Even if you are not a Muslim.
Ms. Pearce should, however, consider herself lucky. If she had been convicted of adultery, a few hundred miles north or west, her fate might have been sealed with a dozen stones on the streets of the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in compliance with their "rule of law".
Reacting to the Appeals Court's verdict, Kate Allen, of Amnesty International, said:
Criminalising the sex lives of consenting adults is never right, let alone using this to back up family laws which already discriminate against women. If Ms Pearce is jailed, Amnesty would consider her a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately.
Tell that to Mr. Miliband, your Foreign Secretary, who insists on criminalizing the sex lives of half the population of Kashmir as the way to stop Islamic terrorism against India. Tell him to focus his energy instead on liberating a billion and more lives from the clutches of Sharia.