Monday, December 12, 2011

Saudi Arabia Beheads Old Woman Convicted Of 'Sorcery and Magic'

The preferred method of execution in Saudi Arabia is beheading. No, I'm not talking about some random terrorist chopping the head off  some captured infidel, I'm talking about the method in which the Saudi Arabian government executes those sentenced to death. And they happen to enjoy making many of those executions a public spectacle, like Abdul Hamid, the Sudanese man who was beheaded in a parking lot this past September for allegedly agreeing to cast a spell for a man who was working for the Saudi religious police. Entrapment or not, it is thought that Hamid was coerced into admitting to sorcery after he was arrested and then beaten.  You see, thanks to Shariah Law, witchcraft, sorcery and fortune telling, are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, along with apostasy, adultery, drug use and the usual murder, rape and armed robbery. But in the not-so-magic Kingdom, you are more likely to have your head chopped off  with a charge of witchcraft and sorcery (or stoned to death for adultery) than for murder or rape.  Take this Saudi man who raped his young daughter for 7 long years- he got to keep his head, and will be out after a 13 year jail sentence plus 2,080 lashes to be meted out throughout his prison stay.

But fortune telling and sorcery (as undefined as it is in Shariah law) is obviously far more un-Islamic than rape, given the amount of people who have been sentenced to death and executed for it.  One of the more celebrated cases was the famous Lebanese TV psychic, Ali Sibat, who on a pilgrimage to Medina in 2008 was arrested in his hotel room after religious police recognized him from his show. Sentenced to death in November, 2009 after a secret trial, he was scheduled to be beheaded on April 2, 2010. But after a major outcry from the international human rights community, the sentence was eventually overruled, and a retrial in Medina was ordered, along with a recommendation for deportation.  But there has been no news regarding the outcome, other than a small mention in this September 2011 NPR article that claims he was deported.

Amina Bint Abdulhalim Nassar, a 60-something year-old woman, wasn't so lucky. Nassar was just beheaded for "practicing witchcraft and sorcery". No specific details were mentioned regarding the nature of her 'crimes', but according to British-based al-Hayat daily, the head of the Saudi religious police, Abdullah al-Mohsen, said the old woman had been bilking people out of $800 with claims she could treat their illnesses. $800 is a lot of money for quackery, but does a person deserve a death sentence for fraud?

The Salem Witch Trials took place in the late 1600s in this country.  Saudi Arabia is still stuck there, thanks to Shariah law.

No comments: