Fri, 24 Aug 2007 14:18:00
Taken Without a CrimeFollowing is the personal account of Sayed Jawad Qazwini who was among those arrested and beaten by the Saudi religious police. 1. Taken without any crime.
I, Sayed Mohammad Jawad AlQazwini, a citizen of the United States of America, was praying in the grand holy mosque in Mecca on August 5, 2007 at 12:45AM when I realized that one of the appointed religious police was giving a lecture regarding Shi'a Muslims. He was attacking the belief system of the shi'a, stating that they are considered infidels.Among his comments were that the shi'a worship the dead, the shi'a worship stones and rocks, the shi'a are hypocrites, and the shi'a gave the Muslim land to the enemy (meaning Iraq's occupation by American troops). At this point a young man came with his old mother to perform prayer.He said to the religious police as he passed next to him that they should stop accusing the shi'a and allow them to pray in peace. At this point I told the young man to ignore him and to continue with his prayers. The religious police looked at us and said in a solid tone, "you are all cowards and we will purify the holy mosque from the shi'a."I told him we are the guests of Allah and that the king has given himself the title of "the servant of the grand masques" Thus, you are in no position to go against Allah and the government of your king. He then arrested me and began to push me and hit me in front of thousands of worshipers.He dragged me by the hand and took me to his headquarters located in the grand masque.I specifically asked to be taken by the police so that I knew I was dealing with the government itself, keeping the fact in mind that I was completely innocent.A police man was asked to take me to the detention center inside the masque. At this point some of the men in our group saw me and followed me to see what was going to happen to me. We were all peaceful, respectful, and obedient to all their orders. Until now we had not committed any crime. The police officer took me and threw me very roughly into a small room. 2. Physical abuse without any crime.
Inside the room were some individuals. The one sitting behind the desk asked why I was brought in.The religious police responded by telling him that I was "an Iraqi shi'a causing problems." I realized immediately that the room and the prison cells were being emptied from true criminals such as pickpockets and thieves. I sensed that I was in danger, and sure enough, as soon as the door closed the man behind the desk threw his boot at me, which was launched directly on my head. I was then in pain due to the fact that the boot was very heavy, and that the distance between me and him was very short. He then threw a stapler and it missed me by an inch or so. Again, he managed to throw his other boot at my head and this time it landed right on my face. At this point I was in more pain and I could barely see.I had a severe headache. He then proceeded to beat me and he was laughing with amusement, telling the rest on the police in the room how good it felt to hit a shi'a. I realized that the door slightly opened and the men from my group were still behind the door. I shouted for help, and they came in. As soon as they entered the man behind the desk called for back-up which resulted in an immediate dispatch of over 30 police into that small room. 3. Torture of innocent American and British pilgrims.
As they entered we told them we were all either American or British citizens, thinking that it would stop them from beating us.The responded by saying the hate us because we were shi'a and from the land of the "infidels."They began to hit us with chairs, bats, radio communication devices, their fists, kicks, and punches continually for at least 30 minutes. All our clothes were ripped and some individuals were bleeding heavily; one from the nose, one from the head and another from the mouth.I was slapped many times in the face. At one point one of the members begged them to stop hitting him in English and they continued. I witnessed them banging some of the individuals' heads to the wall. We were beaten harshly and brutally. We could not find mercy in any one of them. They handcuffed us all. We never fought back. When they realized we meant no harm, they calmed down. Moments later a long bearded policeman came in and went around the room hitting and punching us once again. He said, "I never got a chance" and kicked many in the genitals and stomach. He punched me very hard in the chest and ruthlessly injured my chest and ribs. He said to me "take this message with you back to America."One of the group members was suffering from an asthma attack.He could not breathe, his face turned purple, and we told them he needed a doctor. They responded by saying we all deserved to die. 4. The inhumane treatment of minors and children.
We had two minors who were taken in with us; one who lost control of his bladder and wet himself. They began to mock and ridicule him. We informed them that the minors should not face the same treatment as adults. They said "not in this country." 5. Humiliation based on religion and nationality.
They took us from the prison in the grand mosque by force to another location outside the compounds of the mosque. We had to walk barefoot with our ripped clothes. They made it a point to humiliate us just because we were shi'a and because were came from the lands of religious freedom, democracy and liberty. We walked through dirt on the hot rocks and sands. I asked them to allow us to wear our shoes and they said "you are worthless and valueless, you need no shoes." Once we arrived to the police station, we were placed in a dark and hot environment. We all suffered from emotional and physical abuse. We did not know what was going to happen next. For the entire time that we were taken, until we were released after 14 hours, we were refused food, drink, and use of the restrooms. 6. Signing unknown documents.
We were forced to sign and fingerprint documents written by the police in Arabic. 7. Contacting our embassies.
We managed to sneak in two mobile phones and at times when we were alone we called our friends and relatives. They immediately called the American and British embassies. The embassies were very supportive and helpful. They made calls to the police station and spoke to them about releasing us. They also kept contacting us to make sure we weren't beaten and physically harmed anymore. 8. Refusal of treatment and fake hospital reports.
They took us to a governmental hospital near the police station; we asked to be taken to either an American or British hospital. We were transported in a dark and scary car with no windows; once gain in our bloody clothes and without shoes. They did not give us any treatment; not even a pain killer. The only thing they did was that they removed the blood off of some of the victims' bodies. They gave us fake reports saying we were all in perfect condition.When we wanted to speak to the physician he told us "I would prefer not to hear your story." 9. The crime investigation official.
Once we arrived back at the police station around 1:00PM we met an individual who told us he was from the Saudi crime investigation institute and a representative of the prince of Mecca.He took a copy of our passports and the Arabic reports and told us to leave at about 2PM. He said that he was going to let the Saudi government know we were treated poorly and that they will try to make our experience better. We ended up leaving the police station at approximately 3PM. Our experience didn't change and no Saudi official ever did anything. 10. Continuous suffering.
Until now all the members of the group suffer from various problems, including sleeping disorders, post-traumatic stress, and physical pain.The treatment of the Saudi officials has caused us a tremendous amount of distress.However the emotional scars will remain forever in our hearts and minds. Our family members, our friends and our loved ones are frequently reminded by others about the incident, which results to an unending anxiety and stress. The Saudi officials took from us the comfort, peace and tranquility of our homes. I believe that the entire world is suffering from the Wahabbi mentality which teaches hate, killing, terror and violence. The Saudi government has longed allowed such individuals and groups to operate and empower their systems. Emotionally o not only suffer from the fact that I a victim of the extremist Wahabbis, but I suffer more when I know that such events take place on daily bases in the holy land.http://al-huda.al-khoei.org/news/44/ARTICL...2007-08-25.html