On Friday, three members of Pussy Riot, an all-female Russian punk band, were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced
to two years' imprisonment by a Moscow court. The presiding judge ruled that the three women "committed hooliganism motivated driven by religious hatred" and offended Orthodox Christians when they entered Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, crossed themselves and began performing a 'punk prayer' song
titled "Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away"
in protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin's re-election.
Pussy Riot's plight has attracted global attention, and rightfully so, as freedom of expression has been under attack
in Putin's Russia for more than a decade. Amnesty International slammed
the Pussy Riot verdict as a "bitter blow for freedom of expression," and protests
were staged around the world on Friday, 'Pussy Riot Global Day,' as world leaders decried
the harsh sentence.
The Obama administration led Friday's global chorus of condemnation, with the White House blasting
the two-year sentences as "disproportionate."
"The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences... and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Oh really? Where was the Obama administration's indignation at the far more disproportionate government response to pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain
last year? Dozens were killed by the US-backed ruling al-Khalifa monarchs, just for speaking out against repression and for the freedom America claims to champion. Hundreds were arrested and tortured; anyone suspected of opposing the royal regime was subject to arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture and death.
Brutal state security services raided schools, torturing and threatening to rape girls
as young as 12. Doctors and other medical personnel who treated wounded protesters were arrested and tortured as well. Female doctors were tortured
with electric shocks, beaten with nail-studded boards and threatened with rape. Some were forced to eat feces
. All were tortured to elicit false confessions. Then 47 doctors and nurses were tried and convicted of treason for doing their jobs.
Sure, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed Washington's "deep concern"
about the deadly, brutal Bahraini crackdown, and yes, President Obama did eventually condemn
it. But he also welcomed
Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to the White House, despite issuing an executive order barring human rights violators from entering the United States
just a couple of months later, and affirmed Bahrain's importance as a US ally. And as freedom-seeking Bahrainis were being tortured by the royal regime, the Obama administration rewarded that regime with $53 million
in new arms sales.
And now witness the sanctimonious Obama administration blasting Moscow for its non-violent, if harsh and decidedly anti-democratic, sentencing of Pussy Riot. Could Washington be any more hypocritical? Well yes, it could, actually... next door to Bahrain in Saudi Arabia, the world's most repressive fundamentalist Islamic regime, "criminals" are executed
for being gay, renouncing Islam, adultery and witchcraft, to name but a few. These executions are often carried out by public beheading. Saudi women
cannot drive, vote, be treated in hospitals or travel without written permission from husbands or male relatives. Rape victims face severe punishment because what happened to them is seen as their fault. And 15 schoolgirls were once locked inside their burning schoolhouse to die horrific deaths simply because the dreaded morality police would not let them out because they weren't dressed in black robes and headscarves.
Where is Obama's condemnation of the medieval repression perpetrated in the name of God by the Saudi royal regime? We haven't heard a word of protest. Violations of liberty, it would seem, are only violations if they take place in countries Washington does not like. This hypocrisy is by no means exclusive to the Obama. Far from it. But today's headlines dictate today's response, and today it's Obama whose once again earned the title of hypocrite-in-chief.