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18 September, 2004

Sharjah Baywatch

Another sorry tale from crackpot Sharjah in its attempts to drag the UAE's reputation back to the Stone Age. Not content with virginity-testing foreign students, the fundamentalist Emirate has now decide to institute its own Wahabi-style Baywatch.

A couple of foreign university students - a guy and a girl - went to the beach together. Unbeknownst to either of them, swimming in Sharjah with a member of the opposite sex is illegal, at least outside hotel premises.

Cutting a long story short: the cops approach them, let the girl go, but keep the guy overnight. In the morning, he is asked to sign a statement in Arabic, which he doesn't understand. Thinking it means "I'm sorry for being a bad boy, I won't do it again," he signs it.

But it turns out the statement was an "admission" of raping the girl and he was jailed for six months.

This of course breaches so many international human rights conventions there is barely space enough to begin. The right to a trial, the right to an interpreter, the right to legal representation - it just goes on.

Sharjah: fundamentalist, oppressive, obscene.

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