RAS AL KHAIMAH //A prisoner has expressed his thanks to Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, after being pardoned along with 57 others.
The inmates included men and women from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Uzbekistan and the UAE. Nearly all of them left the country immediately..
Especially grateful was a mason from Dhaka, arrested when he was unable to repay Dh3,400 he owed a friend.
"They have me the chance to repay but I could not get the money," said M I, a 26-year-old from Dhaka.
"If the sheikh did not give the money, how many days, how many weeks, how many years would I have stayed there? I don't know. May God bless him."
Sheikh Saud pardons prisoners two or three times a year. Preference is given to those who have served long sentences and show good character. Hundreds have been pardoned in the last three years.
It is unlikely that M I would have been in jail for a long time, but he is nonetheless grateful.
He earns Dh750 a month as a mason. He shares a room in a labour camp with 10 men and spends about Dh250 a month on food and electricity. He sends the rest home to his family of seven brothers and sisters in Dhaka. His salary is the main source of income for his family, who work as farmers.
"When I called and told them I was in jail, my family was very worried. They wanted me to leave my job and go back to Bangladesh," said M I.
Though his family have begged him to return, he has decided to continue work in the UAE. He said, he has worked at construction sites since he finished his schooling at age 10.
"I was not worried about life inside jail. I was thinking about only money, about getting outside to make money again. So I lasted the three months. I thank God."
Yesterday was his first day back at work.
Pardons are "from Islam and Arabic custom", said Jamal al Najjar, a lawyer who has practised in RAK for more than 15 years.
"The Islamic basis is to help the family of the prisoner and to help the prisoner to become a good person in the society and to join and continue their normal life," he said.
Often, pardons coincide with religious or national occasions, such as Eid or the Islamic New Year. In this case, it could be linked to the appointment of Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud as the Crown Prince of RAK.
"If this is the case the message would be that inshallah the crown prince is like his father, he is a good human being, that there is mercy in his heart and he also wants to help the prisoners," said Mr al Najjar. "Maybe he wants to help him start a new life."