Saudi — Prisoners in the Kingdom desperately wait for Ramadan, the month of hope that will pardon them and give them freedom. For many months, families of prisoners hope and dream that their loved ones will return home during Ramadan.
One released prisoner, A.M., told Al-Watan newspaper, “I had been imprisoned six months ago due to my involvement in a big physical fight that resulted in the injury of some persons.
“I was eagerly awaiting for the advent of the holy month in the hope that I would be pardoned. Much to my delight, I was indeed released on the second day of Ramadan, in accordance with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque’s royal decree to release prisoners convicted of minor offenses perpetrated against the general public. I am now able to fast in Ramadan with my family and I look back at my days in prison as a difficult lesson and I am intent on never repeating my past mistakes.”
Another prisoner, Salah B., said he had been in jail for almost a year due to a financial dispute and all this time he was unable to pay off what he owed in order to be set free.
“Ramadan is a blessed month, it is the month of helping others, reforming, giving, and relieving others of their burdens and troubles. A benevolent man who is a complete stranger paid my entire debt and gave me the gift of freedom this month. Now, I will be able to travel back to Egypt and spend Ramadan with my family. May Allah reward him.”
A young man, S.A. who wishes to be known by his acronym, was also released this Ramadan after spending two years behind bars.He said that the royal decree to release countless prisoners genuinely touched his heart.
Prisoners, like him, who were pardoned by the royal decree or forgiven directly by the victims who dropped all charges against them, stated that they felt immense gratitude toward them. They said the only way they could express their thanks was by correcting their behavior and learning from their mistakes. “For prisoners like us, we have two reasons to rejoice during Ramadan: the first is to enjoy the blessings of this holy month and the second is the relief of returning homes,” said S.A.
The director of the Asir branch of Tarahum, the state supported social service organization that cares for prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families, stated that the committee intensifies its reform and rehabilitative programs for prisoners during this holy month.
The director of Tarahum in the Asir region, Eng. Saad Al-Mubti, told Al-Watan, “During this holy month the organization is keen on paying off debts of prisoners held behind bars from low income families that is those who cannot afford to pay the money demanded of them to secure their release. We are responsible for supporting around 680 families and providing them with the assistance to meet their basic needs for food and clothing with the total amount of SR745,000.”
In addition, Tarahum has organized several educational, awareness, and religious lectures inside the jail to help prisoners learn how to live in the society upon their release and become positive and productive members of the society. Computer training courses are also offered to prisoners.
Once a prisoner is released, the organization helps the ex-prisoner find a suitable job to support his family.