I really don’t think there is much to respect in the death penalty; and more importantly, I think there is nothing to respect in Saudi Arabia’s use of it. We have seen recently both the sorts of people shown the ultimate punishment, and the sheer numbers of victims. As the Independent reports:
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has urged Britain to “respect” his country’s use of the death penalty, two weeks after the oil-rich kingdom executed 47 people in one day.
Adel al-Jubeir, responding to a question over the kingdom’s “terrible image problem”, put to him by Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Rugman, said: “Well on this issue we have a fundamental difference. In your country, you do no execute people, we respect it. In our country the death penalty is part of our laws and you have to respect this as it is the law, part of the law, in the United States and other countries.”
I wrote some time ago on issues concerning Saudi Arabia in “Saudi Arabia, Human Rights and Sir Gerald Howarth’s Nonsense“, responding to a UK MP’s ridiculous moral relativity and incoherent claims.
The problem, as ever, is money. Saudi Arabia have lots of it, and they use it to spend on our companies, like BAE Systems. We pander to their horrors because we make shed loads of money out of them. Oh, and don’t forget the oil.
As the Independent continues:
According to several groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide, the kingdom executed 157 people in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades. Saudi Arabia, however, does not release annual tallies, though it does announce individual executions in state media throughout the year.
We should not have to respect anything that fundamentally disagrees with our sense of human rights, which have themselves become enshrined in our law. Saudi Arabia has little to respect, in my opinion. From Raif Badawi to Ashraf Fayadh, the people being sentenced are being condemned to death for the very things that I myself do. It is unconscionable. As Buzzfeed reports of Fayadh:
Saudi Arabia, which has already drawn condemnation for a string of executions this year, has sentenced poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh to death for the crime of apostasy, or leaving one’s religion. It is unclear when the sentence is due to be carried out.
Fayadh, who is of Palestinian origin, was first arrested in 2013 for an act he blamed on an argument with a fellow artist. He was later released but re-arrested in January 2014, on the grounds that a book of poetry he’d published in 2008, Instructions Within, promoted atheism.
The first court to hear his case sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes. An appeals court passed the case down to a lower court, which convicted him again and upped the punishment to a death sentence. According to Reuters, Fayadh was convicted “based on evidence from a prosecution witness who claimed to have heard him cursing God, Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and Saudi Arabia.”
In so many ways our world is advancing in progress. In others, it is still as regressive as the Dark Ages.