Animal rights in Saudi Arabia
Saudi citizens are concerned about animal cruelty after multiple videos of people abusing animals circulated on YouTube. (AFP/File)
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Pet owners and animal lovers in the Kingdom have called on the government to support their efforts to establish animal rights societies in the country so they can raise awareness on the issue. To promote their cause, many animal lovers have taken to social networking websites where they have called for the establishment of voluntary societies to create awareness among the general public on the importance of being kind to animals and have also called for stern laws that incriminate the torture of animals, a local daily reported.
The calls come in light of recent video clips that are being circulated on social networking websites that show the maltreatment of animals. In one such video, a group of young men can be seen torturing a shackled horse. As the horse whines in pain, one of the men beats the helpless animal. In another video clip, two youths are seen setting a cat on fire. While one records the gruesome act, the other is seen pouring a flammable liquid on the animal before setting the animal on fire.
One particularly horrific video that aroused the anger of online users features a man torturing a cat, which he claims damaged a cooling fan in his car. The man grabs the cat and repeatedly strikes her tail with a sharp object until he severs the tail. He eventually lets the cat go and the video ends with the cat fleeing while screeching in pain. Despite online users’ demands for the severest penalty to be inflicted on the man, the concerned authorities have not taken any steps to arrest him.
According to the spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture, Jaber Al-Shihri, there is a law that was issued two years ago that requires people to behave in a kind manner toward animals.
“This law was passed by the Ministry of Agriculture and approved by the Council of Ministers and is implemented in Saudi Arabia. The law on kindness to animals is based on the Islamic Shariah and is implemented in cooperation with other pertinent authorities,” he said.
Although the law requires the concerned authorities to penalize anyone who breaks it, many people say it is rarely enforced. Al-Shihri expressed anger at the video clip showing the torture of the horse and he asked the general public to contact the ministry and provide any information they have on the perpetrators in the video.
“Severe penalties will be applied against them if they are identified. There are stern measures included in the executive bylaw in force in the Kingdom. The penalties can even lead to imprisonment for those proved to have tortured animals,” he added.
Fines for torturing animals range from SR1,000 to SR1 million and imprisonment for up to five years, depending on the type of violation. The law urges people to treat animals kindly and to feed them well. Animals should not be exploited or harmed, nor should they be tortured.
Professor of law at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Dr. Omar Al-Khouli, said establishing a society for kindness toward animals in Saudi Arabia will help monitor cases involving torture of animals and bring perpetrators to justice. He also stressed the necessity to issue a law or bylaw that specifically targets people who torture animals especially since neither police stations nor public prosecutors receive reports on tortured animals.
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