A prominent Saudi cleric has received a light prison sentence after confessing to beating his 5-year-old daughter to death over concerns about her virginity.
Saudi media reports say Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a frequent guest on Islamic television programs, also raped his daughter before being charged with murder in November.
Gulf News has some of the horrifying details:
[5-year-old] Lama Al Ghamdi was admitted to hospital on December 25, 2011 with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns, the activists said. She died last October 22.
Fayhan Al Gamdi, an Islamic preacher and regular guest on Muslim television networks, confessed to having used cables and a cane to inflict the injuries, the activists from the group “Women to Drive” said in a statement.
They said the father had doubted Lama’s virginity and had her checked up by a medic.
Randa Al Kaleeb, a social worker from the hospital where Lama was admitted, said the girl’s back was broken and that she had been raped “everywhere”, according to the group. [Emphasis added]
But the cleric was freed last week after serving a short prison term and agreeing to pay $50,000 in “blood money” to the family of the girl’s mother. According to the BBC, it is roughly half of what he would have had to pay had the murdered child been male.
Gulf News reports that the ruling is based on national law that men cannot be executed for killing their children or their wives.
But the backlash has been fierce in Saudi Arabia. A social media campaign gaining momentum Sunday is the latest attempt to use the Internet to pressure the kingdom’s ultraconservative rulers to hand down a harsher punishment.
Countless Twitter users are using the hashtag #AnaLama, Arabic for “I am Lama,” in association with the story.
The news comes soon after Al-Arabiya publicized another Saudi cleric’s call to have female babies wear the burka, so there is less chance they will be sexually molested.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.