In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Other Arab Awakening" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-other-arab-awakening.html?ref=thomaslfriedman&_r=0), Friedman would distinguish between "the radical revolutions you’ve read about in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya" and "the radical evolutions that you’ve not read about, playing out in Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf monarchies." Seeking to enlighten us concerning the "radical evolutions" in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where - surprise, surprise, surprise - he is currently visiting, Friedman concludes:
"I heard many of these stories during group conversations with young Saudis and Emeratis, who I found to be as impressive, connected and high-aspiring to reform their countries as any of their revolutionary cohorts in Egypt. But they want evolution not revolution. They’ve seen the footage from Cairo and Damascus. You can feel their energy — from the grass-roots movement to let women drive to the young Saudi who whispers that he’s so fed up with the puritanical Islam that dominates his country he’s become an atheist, and he is not alone. Saudi atheists? Who knew?
. . . .
Again, this is not about democracy. It’s about leaders feeling the need to earn their legitimacy. But when one leader does it, others feel the pressure to copy. And that leads to more transparency and more accountability. And that, and more Twitter, leads to who knows what."
That "leads to who knows what"? If you want the answer, consider the following excerpt from an April 2013 International Business Times article entitled "Execution Central: Saudi Arabia's Bloody Chop-Chop Square" (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/453240/20130403/saudi-arabia-chop-square-beheading.htm) by Umberto Bacchi, describing capital punishment in the Desert Kingdom:
"In accordance with a strict interpretation of Islamic law, Saudi's courts implement a series of corporal punishments, of which flogging is the softest.
Right hand amputation applies in cases of theft, whereas cross amputation - right hand and left foot - is prescribed for highway robbery.
'I use a special sharp knife, not a sword. When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that,' Saudi Arabia's leading executioner Muhammad Saad al-Beshi once told Arab News in a rare interview.
Eye-gouging and tooth extraction are known to have been imposed on offenders sentenced in accordance with the concept of Qisas, or retribution.
. . . .
Beheadings are imposed mainly for murder or drug offences, but cases of apostasy (renunciation of one's faith), sorcery and witchcraft can also end up in Chop Chop square. Indeed a man named Muri' al-'Asiri was executed last year in the southern town of Najran, as punishment for being a sorcerer.
Lashing is carried out as the main or additional punishment for a wide range of offences, and can be imposed on men, women and juveniles. In 2011 a 13-year-old school girl convicted of assaulting a teacher was sentenced to 90 lashes, carried out in front of her classmates."
Evolution or devolution? How about barbarism at its most vile?