Lashings of mercy: Saudis quash poet's death sentence

Lashings of mercy: Saudis quash poet's death sentence February 5, 2016

Ashraf Fayadh, above, the Palestinian poet who was sentenced to death last year in Saudi Arabia for ‘doubting the existence of God’, has had his sentence commuted to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.
His death sentence for apostasy caused an international outcry with hundreds of writers, actors and artists appealing for his release.

Fayadh’s lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahim, said the court in the south-western city of Abha had also ruled that his client would have to issue an announcement of repentance in official media.
The lashes are to be carried out in 16 sessions, he added.
Lahim said the defence would appeal against the new ruling and ask for Fayadh’s release.
Fayadh was arrested in August 2013 after a Saudi citizen alleged he was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas, according to Amnesty International.
He was released the next day but rearrested in January 2014 and charged with apostasy – the renunciation of religious belief.
The charge apparently related to his collection of poetry, Instructions Within, published in 2008, which critics said questioned religion and spread atheist thought.
Fayadh, 35, was also charged with violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cyber crime law by taking and storing photos of women on his mobile phone.
In April 2014, a court in Abha sentenced Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes for violating the anti-cyber crime law. But it found his repentance in relation to the charge of apostasy to be satisfactory and not requiring further punishment.
However, an appeals court overturned the ruling and sent the case back to the original court which sentenced him to death for apostasy on November 17, 2015.
In January, hundreds of writers took part in a worldwide reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Fayadh.
The International Literature Festival Berlin called on the US and UK governments to intervene on Fayadh’s behalf and also demanded that the UN suspend Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council:
Until its abysmal record on upholding civil liberties improves.
Fayadh, who was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian refugee parents, is credited with taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience.
Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic code mean the crimes of murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.
Last year, the kingdom executed 153 people, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn


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  • L.Long

    One very important thing to know…If the BS ahole religion is in charge of the government, and your individual power is so low that you can’t tell the law to piss off…..DO NOT insult the religion!!!!!
    All religions are pure distilled BS and the only way they can stop people from laughing at them is to pass laws that kill the laughter.
    So behave!

  • Rob Andrews

    This shows how disconnected from the modern world Saudi Arabia is. Is the reduction of sentence to lashing supposed to impress thre outside world, with their mercy? Why else would they do this.
    I know Amnesty International has been working for at least a year on his and Raif Badawi’s cause.
    Signs at the Saudi Arabian border:
    “Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1300 years of tradition unimpeded by progress”.
    “Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, set your watches back 1300 years”..
    Amnesty International USA

  • Angela_K

    Thee was a good cartoon in last week’s Private Eye showing two men in Saudi dress with the caption “Bad news your majesty, the price of oil has fallen below the price of human life”. Says it all really.

  • barriejohn

    Is Saudi Arabia a hopeless case? And as for Islam being about mercy and compassion, I’m lost for words. Allow me to link to the following on this site:

  • David Anderson

    “Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic code mean the crimes of murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.”
    One of those crimes is not like the others. Well, two actually according to Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid where “slaves” are concerned.
    It’s difficult to argue with Saudi Arabia about the death penalty when talking about murder. The USA comes to mind.

  • Newspaniard

    The Saudis are our allies. Isn’t that nice?

  • John C

    Until the rest of the world find no value in oil and selling weapons, the Saudis are immune to opinion,once those things are removed, they will lose their value and no one in power will care.

  • By “Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic code” of course one should read “Saudi Arabia’s traditional, normal, average, Quran-based Islamic code.” In religion, ‘strict’ and ‘extreme’ mean ‘how things have been done for thousands of years, but which are embarrassing to notice now.’

  • AgentCormac

    While the idea of 800 lashes is mind-bogglingly off-the-scale inhuman, it is probably no more than any of us here would sadly expect from the beautiful religion of peace. However, if you think that christianty is done with abuse, violence and unadulterated misogyny, check this pastor out. Be warned, not for the faint-hearted.

  • tonye

    Well, it’s good to see they have a compassionate side…………..

  • Newspaniard

    @Agent Cormac. Looks like someone panicked, your link no-longer works and, of course, because it’s more than 3 micro seconds old, you can’t fix it. Ho Hum.

  • barriejohn

    Newspaniard: It works if you’re logged into Facebook!
    Here is the same video on YouTube:
    Dobryj dyen’.

  • Edwin Salter

    The idea of ‘exchanging prisoners’ seems relevant.
    Since Muslim states hate atheists more than we dislike Muslims, I suggest a ratio of 100 to 1. We get one convicted atheist, they get 100 convicted Muslims. Greater happiness and a huge saving in costs all round.

  • Tony A

    Edwin – Israel already practises your suggestion of a disproportionate exchange rate with Arab countries. One Israeli soldier for approx. 1000 Muslim prisoners. Nicely reflects intelligence levels too.