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Prince of Saudi flogged in court-ordered punishment – Council rejects study of women driving

DUBAI, Nov 2, (Agencies): A prince of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud family was given lashes in a prison in Jeddah as a court-ordered punishment, a Saudi newspaper said on Wednesday, less than a month after the kingdom executed another prince for murder.

Okaz daily did not disclose the offence for which the prince was punished nor did it disclose his identity. It said he was also ordered to serve a prison sentence. Publication of the prince’s flogging, carried out by a policeman on Monday after medical checks to ensure the prince was strong enough to endure the punishment, was unusual. Some Saudi social media users said it showed Islamic law did not differentiate between a prince and ordinary Saudis.

Others saw it as a tactic to calm public disquiet over economic belt-tightening by the government. It did not say how many strokes of the lash he was given. Human Rights Watch, citing Saudi rights activists, says floggings are normally administered with a light wooden cane on the back and legs which leaves bruising but does not break the skin. A spokesman for the oil-rich Gulf kingdom’s Justice Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Saudi Arabia, a leading Arab ally of the United States and the birthplace of Islam, follows the strict Wahhabi Sunni Muslim school and gives the clergy control over its justice system. A Saudi prince was executed in Riyadh on Oct 18 after a court found him guilty of shooting dead a fellow Saudi, official media reported, in what Saudis said was the first execution of a prince since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, which advises the cabinet, has turned down a proposal to study the issue of women’s driving, a Shura member told AFP on Wednesday. The kingdom has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive. At a meeting this week, a male member of the appointed council suggested the study, said another member who declined to be named.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has congratulated Lebanon’s new President Michel Aoun on his election despite the support he received from the kingdom’s regional foes. King Salman telephoned Aoun to wish him success, “stressing the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s support for Lebanon and its unity”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported late Tuesday.

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