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Raped, burned, murdered; Islamist preacher goes free after killing five-year-old daughter

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The story is almost too horrific to hear. A prominent Saudi preacher, who burned, raped and tortured his five-year-old daughter to death has been released after agreeing to pay "blood money."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Little Lama al-Ghamdi died last October after having suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns. The girl had also been repeatedly raped and the burned.

Her father, prominent Islamist preacher Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a regular fixture on television in Saudi Arabia, served only a few months in jail in spite of admitting having used a cane and cables to inflict his daughter's injuries.

Even worse, activists from the group Women to Drive claim the preacher had doubted five-year-old Lama's virginity and had her checked up by a medic.
 
A social worker from the hospital where Lama was admitted, Randa al-Kaleeb said the girl's back was broken and that she had been repeatedly raped - and that her injuries were then burned.

Rather than the death penalty or a long prison sentence, the judge in the case ruled the prosecution could only seek "blood money," which is compensation for the next of kin under Islamic law.

Activists said the judge ruled the few months al-Ghamdi spent in prison since his arrest in November was sufficient punishment. He has reportedly agreed to pay a fine of less than $50,000, which is believed to have gone to Lama's mother. The amount is half that would have been paid if Lama had been a boy.

Female activists say under Islamic laws a father cannot be executed for murdering his children. Husbands can also not be executed for murdering their wives, the group says.

Three Saudi activists, including Manal al-Sharif, who started the women's right to drive campaign, have raised objections to the ruling. In addition, a social media campaign is now gaining momentum after the ruling was publicized.

Manal al-Sharif has launched a campaign on Twitter using the hash tag "Ana Lama," which is translated as I am Lama, calling for better protection for children and women.

Public anger in Saudi Arabia is growing. Authorities say they will create a 24-hour hotline to take calls about child abuse.


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