For Lama

He was afraid his daughter wasn’t a virgin, so he raped her.

And beat her.

And burned her.

And raped her again.

And beat her again, with a cane and cables, breaking her ribs, her left arm, and her back.

Until she died.

Because he was afraid she wasn’t a virgin.

She was five years old.

He is Saudi Arabian, but he could be American, or Finnish, or Australian, or English, or Portuguese.

But in America, Finland, Australia, England, Portugal, or (one likes to think) any other country, having been found guilty – having confessed, believing that he had a right to rape, torture, and kill a five-year-old – he would have been jailed for a very long time.

In Saudi Arabia, he has been released from custody after agreeing to pay his daughter’s mother for her child’s life.

“Blood money and the time the defendant had served in prison since Lama’s death suffices as punishment,” said the judge who released him.

The killer’s name is Fayhan al-Ghamdi.

He appears regularly on Saudi Arabian televison, as a preacher.

What wise counsel, what divine inspiration will he have to share with his countrymen as he gestures to them with the hands that crushed his daughter’s skull?

What god or prophet will save him from the torment of his own sick mind?

What little girl’s virginity will he doubt next?

A few brave Saudi activists have made formal objections to the ruling that set Fayhan al-Ghamdi free.

It takes no courage at all for me to add my voice to theirs.


I am Lama.

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