Netwerk24, via News24, is reporting that Emlyn Culverwell, along with his fiancée, Iryna Nohai, have been arrested in the United Arab Emirates for engaging in sexual intercourse before marriage. When a doctor discovered that Nohai was pregnant, and that the couple was not yet married, the authorities in Abu Dhabi were informed, and they were subsequently arrested. Culverwell, a South African, and Nohai, a Ukrainian, have been engaged since 27 January 2017.
Meanwhile, our faithful Department of International Relations and Cooperation spits in the face of Culverwell as he is being dragged away in cuffs by a foreign aggressor.
The core mandate of any government is to protect its citizens – and citizenship is not a territorial concept. When you are born as a South African or acquire citizenship through naturalization, it is not a one-sided deal, whereby you promise to fund the excesses of a corrupt government with your tax payments. Instead, the government, in return, promises to protect you from physical aggression and fraud (from any aggressor!). This is, at the end of the day, what the so-called ‘social contract’ is all about. Yet, the South African government just shrugs its shoulders, once again, in the face of unacceptable Islamic law tyranny.
Freedom of religion is an intimate individual liberty which no government may violate. However, when religion is subsumed into law, it loses its religious character, and assumes a state character. This is why, as an avid open borders advocate who believes strongly in the right of Muslims to express their faith, I am able to criticize Islamic law in the very same way I can criticize any other law.
Islamic law, by its very nature, is an illegitimate system. It thrives on imposing moral standards upon unconsenting individuals – whether Muslim or not – and then hiding behind the veneer of state sovereignty. This system is by its nature, not by its geographical location, illegitimate. It should not be tolerated in the West, the East, or in the Middle East. Where it appears, it must be stomped out. Like citizenship, oppression is not a territorial concept.
State sovereignty applies only insofar as the State acts legitimately. The social contract dictates the State respect individual liberty and protect individuals from aggression and fraud. When the State itself – as is the case in most of the Islamic world – steps over this line, it can obviously not rely on sovereignty any more than a child abuser can rely on his private property rights when the police show up at the front door.
There are many options available to the South African government to deal with this situation, or, at the very least, manifest the sincere and passionate dissatisfaction of the South African people. For instance, unless Culverwell and Nohai are released immediately, our government must expel the United Arab Emirates’ diplomatic and consular delegation from South Africa. In addition, any UAE non-diplomatic state official who coincidentally finds themselves in South Africa, should be detained by the authorities in lieu of Culverwell and Nohai’s release.
We cannot reasonably make exceptions for citizens outside of South African territory. They are the most vulnerable and the most in need of protection. Our interest in saving face or maintaining a good relationship with the UEA pales in comparison to the life of just one individual who has been accosted under a tyrannical system of law. It’s time for the government to man-up and do what governments were designed to do.