Outrage over Saudi “sorcery” beheading

A CALL to end executions in Saudi Arabia has been made by Amnesty International after a woman was beheaded for “witchcraft and sorcery”.

The country’s Interior Ministry, according to this report, confirmed that Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser, a Saudi Arabian national, was executed on Monday in the northern province of al-Jawf. It gave no further details of the charges against her.

Said Philip Luther Amnesty International’s interim Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme:

The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling. While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion.

The execution is the second of its kind in recent months. In September a Sudanese national was beheaded in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina after being convicted on “sorcery” charges. He had allegedly confessed after being tortured and was tried without a lawyer.

The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has almost tripled this year. So far at least 79 people – including five women – have been executed there, compared to at least 27 in 2010.

Luther said:

The huge rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia is deeply disturbing. We regularly call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to impose a moratorium with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Where the death penalty is used, under international law it should only be applied to the most serious crimes.

Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty to a wide range of offences ranging from murder and rape to blasphemy, apostasy, sorcery, adultery and drugs-related offences.

In December 2010, Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states voting against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

An Indonesian policewoman, with lipstick and jacket tastefully coordinated, takes scissors to the hair of a 'deviant' punk rocker. (AFP: Chaideer Mahyuddin )

I guess we should be grateful that in Indonesia they are not using Islamic law to remove heads – just hair … for the moment.

Sharia police, according to ABC News,  have “morally rehabilitated” more than 60 young punk rock fans in Aceh province on Sumatra island, saying the youths were bad for the province’s image.

After they were arrested at a punk rock concert in Banda Aceh last Saturday, 59 male and five female punk rock fans were forced to have their hair cut, bathe in a lake, change clothes … and pray.

Banda Aceh deputy mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, who ordered the arrests, said:

We feared that the Islamic sharia law implemented in this province will be tainted by their activities. We hope that by sending them to rehabilitation they will eventually repent.

Hundreds of Indonesian punk fans came from around the country to attend the concert, organised to raise money for orphans.

Police claimed the raid was executed to deter the youths from “deviant” behaviour. Said Aceh police chief Iskandar Hasan:

They never showered, they lived on the street, never performed religious prayers. We need to fix them so they will behave properly and morally. They need harsh treatment to change their mental behaviour.

A local rights activist, Evi Narti Zain, said the arrests breached human rights.

What the police have done is totally bizarre. Being a punk is just a lifestyle. They exist all over the world and they don’t break any rules or harm other people.

Hasan denied the accusation, claiming the rehabilitation programme was merely:

An orientation into normal Indonesian society.

Hat tip: Remigius and M A Chohan (beheading report) and Name Withheld (Indonesian report)