Sharia punishment from the dark ages is alive and well in the suburbs of Sydney. When recent convert to Islam, Cristian Martinez, begged his spiritual adviser to stop beating him, he was told that his body was being "cleansed" by Allah. Four men held him down and gave him 40 lashes to his back for drinking alcohol and taking drugs.
Four men faced Burwood court yesterday and pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. It is alleged that Zakaryah Raad 21, Tolga Cifci 21, Wassim Fayad 44 and Cengiz Coskun 22, went to his home in Silverwater in July 2011, to perform a Sharia punishment and took CCTV film from cameras installed inside the home. All four men pleaded not guilty.
But it was Mr Martinez who rang Wassim Fayad and told him he had been drinking alcohol and taking cocaine at a nightclub. As a new convert, he saw him as his spiritual leader but said he was never told about Sharia punishment and had no idea about what was about to happen.
Fayad told him over the phone "It means I’m going to tie you up brother…. it’s what has to happen.. that's what you need." His friend Raad then allegedly went to his home before letting the other three men inside.
He was held down on his bed and whipped 10 times with an electrical cord. He then ran to the bathroom and vomited. When he had finished, he willingly went back to his bed to await the rest.
When Martinez started vomiting, crying and pleading for mercy, Fayad allegedly told him that the vomiting was “Allah taking impurity out of the body because you are being cleansed” and if he didn’t complete the punishment of 40 lashes, he would be punished himself.
Then they gave Martinez a cold, wet towel for the welts on his back before continuing with the last 20 lashes. "After the 40 lashes, I couldn't bear the pain ... I even wanted to jump off the balcony, I was running to the front door. "(Fayad) said to me: 'I'm only doing this because I love you ... the next time you want to drink or take drugs you're going to remember this pain'."
After the beating, Mr Martinez said he was furious and called Sheik Omar "who told me it was wrong on every level."
Counsel for Mr Fayed said "You thought you needed punishment to rid yourself of alcohol and drug addiction?"
"Initially, yes, when it first started I didn't consent but when he said God would punish him if he didn't finish, I laid down myself, then after that, I said I didn't want anymore."
Mr Martinez was asked that in light of his phone call to Mr Fayad, he knew he would be beaten. "Did you think he was going to come around and give you a hug?"
Mr Martinez said he could not remember the phone call but still believed that Mr Fayed was a good person and that he remained committed to Islam "one hundred per cent."
The hearing continues.
Edit 28 February 2013: All four men were found guilty of assault today. The judge ruled that Mr Martinez had withdrawn his consent and it was not properly informed consent anyway. They will be sentenced at a later date.