Editor’s note: The following was written for RaymondIbrahim.com by an anonymous American teacher living in the Muslim world
I first heard of Little Lama’s tragedy in February 2013 while teaching in Saudi Arabia. Her story still fills me with sadness because of the evil some men can inflict on others, and anger due to the light sentence some of them receive for committing such atrocities. For those unfamiliar with Lama’s story, this five year old little girl was raped, tortured, and beaten to death by her father, Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a well-known Muslim preacher who appeared regularly promoting Islam on Saudi television.
This tragic story began in the summer of 2011, when Little Lama, whose parents were divorced, visited her father in Riyadh for what should have been a joyful two week holiday. Sadly for Lama, her father defied a court order granting Lama’s mother custody of her till the age of seven, and kept her despite the numerous pleas of his ex-wife. In December of the same year, Lama’s mother was informed by the Riyadh police that her daughter was in critical condition at the hospital as a result of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father.
In Riyadh, Lama’s mother was told by police officials that her ex-husband admitted beating Lama with cables and a cane because he doubted his five year old daughter’s virginity. The beating was so brutal that Lama was admitted to the hospital with extensive bruising and burns, a crushed skull, a broken back, ribs and left arm, and a torn off fingernail. As if the above beatings weren’t enough, Fayhan al-Ghamdi also raped his daughter till her rectum was torn open, which he then attempted to close by burning it.
The agony Little Lama suffered at the hands of her father sent her into a coma, where she remained until October 2012, at which time the remaining life in her fragile little body was extinguished and her soul found its way to heaven.
In a sane society, Fayhan al-Ghamdi, would either face the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison. However, Lama’s father committed his horrible crime in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where Islamic law states that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children or his wives. Instead, he paid 200,000 riyal ($53,000) in “blood money” to Lama’s mother (the amount would have been double if Lama would have been a boy).
Fayhan al-Ghamdi’s light punishment drew international criticism and as a result, he was re-sentenced in October 2013 to eight years in prison, 800 lashes, and a fine of one million riyal ($260,000) in “blood money”. While the sentence was nowhere near what he should have received, the world went to bed thinking that some justice had been served.
Being familiar with Islamic culture, I had serious doubts that Lama’s father would serve his full sentence. Those doubts were confirmed in March of this year when I read an article in the International Business Times that reported that al-Ghamdi was supposedly a free man.
Following last October’s verdict, al-Ghamdi’s lawyers immediately appealed the sentence and by early 2014, another judge ordered Lama’s father to be released because Islamic law only allows the prosecution to seek “blood money” for this type of crime, and the few months he served in prison was ample punishment for raping, torturing, and fatally beating his daughter into a coma.
So, eighteen months after her death, Lama’s murderer walks the streets of Riyadh a free man thanks to Islam’s view of women. In Islam, women are simply considered possessions that can easily be replaced if lost (see Raymond Ibrahim’s article, “Islamic Fatwa: Husbands Should Abandon Wives to Rapists in Self-Interest”). For that reason, Muslim men in countries that apply a strict interpretation of Islamic law are free to kill their wives and daughters without serious fears of repercussion.
To conclude, I acknowledge that most Muslim men are disgusted by the brutality of this crime and have the common sense not to doubt their five year old daughters’ virginity. However, these same men must recognize that their religion, Islam, values women to the same degree as a camel, which in turn permits men like Fayhan al-Ghamdi to torture, rape, and kill little girls like Lama and walk away with little or no punishment. Lama and numerous other women and girls in the Islamic world will receive the justice they deserve when Muslims decide to reject Islamic law.