No smoking means no smoking
A Sudanese man has been sentenced to 30 lashes for smoking on a domestic Saudi Arabian Airlines flight.
Wearing just a thin shirt, he will be flogged by a policeman wielding a slim reed who must hold a book under his arm to prevent him using too much force.
The strokes are not meant to leave permanent damage but to inflict painful welts that bleed and bruise.
The unnamed smoker refused repeated requests from cabin crew to stub out his cigarette on a flight to the Red Sea port of Jeddah from Qurayyat in northern Saudi Arabia.
A Sudanese man has been sentenced to 30 lashes for smoking on a domestic Saudi Arabian Airlines flight. File photo
He was arrested when the aircraft landed in Jeddah and promptly handed over to police.
The man apologised in court – and to prove his penitence presented evidence that he was attending a clinic to help him kick his heavy smoking habit.
But the judge was keen to make an example and gave a sentence designed to serve as a deterrent.
Smoking is banned in many public places in the conservative desert Kingdom but the law is often brazenly flouted.
Smoking was outlawed on domestic flights of Saudi’s national carrier SAA in 1987 and on overseas flights in 1999.
Last April a man caught smoking on a domestic Saudi flight was sentenced to 50 lashes. His cigarette triggered a smoke alarm that led to panic among passengers.
Under Saudi’s Sharia or Islamic law, flogging is common for a number morals offences ranging from adultery to being alone in the company of an unrelated person of the opposite sex.
But it can also be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or addition to other punishments.
Sentences can range from dozens to thousands of lashes.
For those sentenced to hundreds of lashes the punishment is carried out over a period of months in batches of 50.
Human rights groups condemn lashing as a degrading and inhuman punishment.