Sharia Judges Oppose ‘Westernizing’ Reforms

Angus McDowall reports:

Saudi judges who enforce sharia (Islamic law) have condemned what they see as “the stench of Western ideas” in sweeping legal reforms pushed by King Abdullah, underscoring friction between government modernizers and religious hardliners.

In a letter to Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa seen by Reuters, eight judges complained about foreign trainers who shave their beards contrary to purist Islam, the minister’s meetings with diplomats of “infidel” states and plans to let women practice as lawyers.

I have seen the letter when it first surfaced online last month but could not confirm its authenticity. Props to Reuters for managing to get the confirmation. The letter, and the news from last week about plans to establish a special Saudi court in London, suggest that the King’s project to reform the judiciary is proving even more difficult than anticipated. It is going to take a long time and it is going to be a painful process, but in the end it has to be done.