Middle East

Anger over death of Saudi girl after father's 'beating'

A feed from Twitter of users using the hashtag "Ana Lama" ("I am Lama")
The campaign was launched by Manal al-Sharif - known for her efforts to win women the right to drive

The case of a five-year-old Saudi girl who died after allegedly being beaten by her father has sparked outrage and an online campaign in the kingdom.

The girl, Lama, was the daughter of Fayhan al-Ghamdi, an Islamic preacher who made regular appearances on TV.

He was arrested after Lama's death in November but was reportedly absolved by the judge in the case.

The verdict has sparked an online campaign calling for punishment for violence against women and children.

Saudi media reports said that Ghamdi had paid 200,000 riyals ($50,000; £31,500) in "blood money" - a sum that can be paid to relatives of a murder victim and which, if accepted, can replace a death sentence.

The amount is half what would have been necessary if Lama had been male.

The women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif has launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag "Ana Lama" (Arabic for "I am Lama") to demand legislation criminalising violence against women or children, the BBC's Sebastian Usher reports.

A few people have signed up so far, but Saudi activists say it's unlikely to have much effect, our analyst says.

But with concern over the issue growing, the Saudi authorities have recently said a 24-hour hotline will be set up to take calls about child abuse.

Lama's mother has said she will pursue the case however she can.