Saudi Gazette report
A number of experts have called on the authorities to apply the haraba punishment, the Islamic penalty for criminal actions, such as rebellion, robbery and murder, on anyone who abducts a child.
The calls come on the heels of the kidnapping of Jouri Al-Khalidi, a two-year-old girl who was abducted from a hospital in Riyadh late last year.
The girl was left unattended by her father at the reception area of a private polyclinic in Riyadh while he went to pray. A stranger approached the girl and started playing with her and then led her to his car and drove off.
Although the man was arrested, thanks to vigilant security officers, the kidnapping sent shockwaves through Saudi society and left many parents calling for harsher penalties on kidnappers of children because their actions cause anguish to parents and society as a whole, Al-Madinah daily reported.
“Child abduction is a global problem and some statistics put the annual number of abducted children around the world at 2 million. It is a frightening figure and the problem is exacerbated in some countries due to the fact that many have lost their moral compass amid an absence of sound religious values,” said sociologist Khaloufah Al-Ahmari.
He went on to say that in the Kingdom, kidnappings are not as frequent as many believe due to exaggerated and often false reports on social media websites. He however advocated harsher punishments for kidnappers as a deterrent.
“Many people began to worry about the safety of their children after Jouri was abducted in broad daylight. The Shariah has clear texts and punishments that emphasize the importance of maintaining security of society. Anyone who abducts a child should face the punishment of haraba because kidnapping is a crime that threatens public peace and order and disrupts security,” he added.
He attributed a lack of religious awareness and moral decadence in the environments in which kidnappers grow up as the reason why child abductions occur. “A moral and religious person who is God-fearing will never kidnap a child, Muslim or non-Muslim, because children are innocent and helpless human beings,” he said.
He went on to explain that haraba is the only suitable penalty to deter kidnappers and cited a fatwa issued by the Board of Senior Ulema regarding kidnappings and violation of the sanctity of Muslims. The fatwa said it is permissible to apply haraba in cases of kidnappings with many other Muslim scholars backing it up.
For his part, sociologist Salih Al-Subaee said kidnappings cause more psychological stress than terror attacks do, and called upon the public to cooperate with the security authorities to eradicate this menace from society.
“I do not see any other way except haraba to end this social menace. A kidnapper should be executed because he deserves it. Many families have suffered greatly because a relative was kidnapped and the least we can do is give justice to them,” he said.