Slava Novorossiya

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Sunday, August 5, 2012


NOTICE: The following article is written by the author itself and not by me, I am not trying to violate their copyright. I will give some information on them.

PAGE TITLE: Asharq Al-Awsat
ARTICLE TITLE: Living on Death Row
AUTHOR: Muhammad Sadiq Diab
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Muhammad Sadiq Diab (1942 to 8 April 2011) is a well-known Saudi writer and journalist. He was born in Jeddah and was editor in chief of a number of Saudi magazines, including Iqra, Al-Jadeedah (a publication of the Saudi Research and Publishing Company that also publishes Arab News) and the Haj and Umrah magazine of which he was chief editor until his death. He had a daily column in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic newspaper, which is a sister publication of Arab News. Diab wrote a number of books and short stories, including “A Woman and a Cup of Coffee,” “History and Social Life,” "The Wall Clock Ticks Twice,” “16 Stories from the Hara” and “Common Proverbs.” He also wrote a book on the dialect of Jeddawis. He died in a London hospital on Friday 8 April 2011 after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.
DATE: Monday 4 October 2010

Muhammad Sadiq Diab

Opinion, Asharq Al-Awsat, October 5, 2010

Living on Death Row
By Muhammad Diyab

It is certain that Hisham Talaat Moustafa, and Mohsen al-Sukkari, will have slept long and well – for the first time in a while – after a court verdict released the noose from around their necks. Being sentenced to years of imprisonment, with all its deprivation, pain, and dark nights, is still a much more merciful outcome for an inmate than to remain on death row, with the possibility that a warden will knock on his cell door one morning to take him to his execution. One is unable to imagine the magnitude of anxiety that is faced by someone waiting to be executed. One inmate, sentenced to death, wrote in their diary prior to their execution, giving a candid and rare account of the agony of waiting, the fear of dying, and the cruel sense the imminent end. 

An Arabic prison officer also told me of his difficult task, being entrusted with bringing death row inmates from their cells to the execution room, and how many of them lose their ability to move or even express themselves. They pray on their way to the execution room, looking almost dead, in a state of mental breakdown. There are rare exceptions of course, such as the case of Saddam Hussein. When the American troops described Saddam Hussein’s final moments, in a letter to his wife, which has recently been published, they said that he was able to smile in front of the gallows, as if he was observing something pleasant. When he was told that he would be executed within hours, he was not distressed, but rather he requested a meal of rice with boiled chicken meat, and drank several glasses of hot water with honey, a drink he had enjoyed since his childhood. 

In my opinion, those such as Saddam Hussein are aware of the likely prospects of their fate. He was engulfed, for a long time, within the psychological ‘game’ of the killer and the victim. A former official from an authoritarian regime has analyzed this ‘game’, by saying that “you are [mentally] distressed only by your first victim. After that, you need to decide whether to get out of the game or continue. To continue means the risk, and ultimately the reality, that you are also a dead body”. 

Those who demand the abolition of the death penalty for murderers and criminals, in both the East and the West, forget the feelings of the victim’s family, and the magnitude of their loss. The role of the death penalty is to offer a form of just retribution, whilst it also serves as a deterrent, and supports the security of societies. Even states that adopt the principle of ‘blood money’ should not allow profiteering from the millions paid by good-hearted humanitarians, since this might lead to a dangerous increase of the rate of murders or a desensitisation towards the act of killing. Yet, it is necessary for the concerned authorities to distinguish between a killer and another in terms of the nature of the crime, its motives and its surrounding conditions. 

Muhammad Diyab is a well-known Saudi writer and journalist.

Comment: I love the last paragraph of this article. It shows that Diyab acknowledged that the government must have the moral duty of providing justice to the victims’ families and also protecting society. I agree that some crimes cannot be compensated by paying a huge sum of money, they can only be compensated by paying with their lives.

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