Saudis punished for partying ordered to dig graves

Saudis punished for partying ordered to dig graves
Jeddah's criminal court has handed down an unusual grave-digging sentence for two men caught partying at a beach resort.
2 min read
10 Jun, 2015
Saudi judges are beginning to experiment with "alternative sentences" [Getty]

It sounds like a morbid punishment for partying, but two men in Saudi Arabia have been ordered by a court to dig five graves after being caught at a "wild party".

Arab News
reported that the two men were caught together with two women at the party at a beach resort.

The women won't have to join in in the grave-digging, and were instead ordered to visit ten patients at an intensive care unit of a government hospital.

The punishments are part of a move by some judges in Saudi Arabia to hand out "community service"-type punishments instead of prison sentences, in an attempt to stem the country's growing prison population.

Yet these specific punishments also appear to have a religious aspect, in an attempt to remind the partygoers of their mortality.

That element has not received everyone's backing.

Writing in the Saudi paper, Okaz, columnist Khaled Suleiman thought that the four being punished should have been ordered to carry out tasks that would instead "benefit society".

"If I were the judge I would have ordered that the alternative sentences be to the benefit of society," Suleiman wrote. "Reminding people of the afterlife is [merely] giving advice.

"For example, I would have wanted the sentence of the women to have been to help the patients for a number of hours," he said. "As for the men, instead of digging graves, it would have been better for them to cover up potholes in the streets."