Dubai: Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) has appealed to President Mohammad Mursi to request the Saudi authorities to cancel the 500-lashes punishment against an Egyptian businesswoman, Najla Yahya Wafa.
The Egyptian prisoner has already received 300 lashes — 50 a week — and the remaining 200 lashes are expected soon, the Council said.
The NCW said that it based its assistance request to the Egyptian leader on its prerogatives as a defender of women’s rights and on the case of Shayma Adel, the journalist working for Al Watan newspaper who was detained in Sudan. Her detention prompted a flurry of protests and rallies in Egypt calling for her release.
Several other Egyptian groups had also urged the recently-elected Mursi to help Najla who was arrested in Saudi Arabia on September 30, 2009 and sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison and to 500 lashes.
According to her family, Najla has been living in Saudi Arabia for the last seven years and had set up an event management company. However, she has reportedly fallen out with her partner.
Her father, a doctor, said that he had turned down calls by Egyptian groups to organise rallies in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo to press for Najla’s release.
“There is no direct contact between us and her and communication between us is assured by the lawyer whom we hired some weeks ago,” he told local Arabic daily Al Masry Al Yawm. “He told us that Najla is expected to appeal the resumption of the lashing sentence after Ramadan.”
NCW said that it had also contacted Mohammad Kamel Amr, the Egyptian foreign minister, and Ahmad Al Qattan, the Saudi ambassador to Egypt, to help with Najla’s case.