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Tue 13 Dec 2011 01:52 PM

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Amnesty blasts Saudi for sorcery beheading

Saudi woman executed after being found guilty of practising witchcraft

Amnesty blasts Saudi for sorcery beheading
Saudi has no written code of law, but an interpretive form of Islamic law

Rights group Amnesty International has described as
"deeply shocking" Saudi Arabia's beheading of a woman convicted on
charges of "sorcery and witchcraft", saying it underlined the urgent
need to end executions in the kingdom.

Saudi national Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was
executed on Monday in the northern province of al-Jawf after being tried and
convicted for practising sorcery, the interior ministry said, without giving
details of the charges

"The citizen... practised acts of witchcraft and
sorcery," Saudi newspaper al-Watan cited the interior ministry as saying.
"The death sentence was carried out on the accused yesterday [Monday] in the
Qurayyat district in al-Jawf region".

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has no written criminal
code, which is instead based on an uncodified form of Islamic sharia law as
interpreted by the country's judges

"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," Philip Luther,
interim director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a

Amnesty said the execution was the second of its kind in
recent months. A Sudanese national was beheaded in the Saudi city of Medina in
September after being convicted on sorcery charges, according to the
London-based group

Amnesty put at 79 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia
so far this year, nearly triple the figure in 2010.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online

Rashid M. Koja, BA, MS 8 years ago

The companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used to cut off the known magicians' heads on the spot. Whats' amnesty International going to do? Sing, act, and protest us to death? The only problem I have is that there just applying the law to non-Saudi citizens. The Shariah should applied to everyone possible.

Peter 8 years ago

....this is what other countries around the world did 400-500 years ago. Good thing most have moved on...

Saudi Engineer 8 years ago

....and because it's that old naturally we should get rid of it. Renew everything, right?

Peter my friend, some things will never change, and never should. Although the judgment of some acts may change from right to wrong over time - as it was right to have and beat your slaves 200 years ago - generally speaking right will always be right, while wrong will always be wrong. Same with good and evil.

I'm not sure if Amnesty is protesting the sorcery claim, or most likely the death penalty in general. They believe *no one* should be executed. However a mass murderer who has killed dozens should be allowed to live out the rest of his life in jail. Have we forgotten that most of the world celebrated the death of Hitler? Or that the west applauded the executions of Saddam Hussein and Bin Ladin.

But let's not get into other subjects....

Billy 8 years ago

Saudi Engineer, you totally missed the point. Sorcery and witchcraft are charges that have absolutely no place in any society these days.Saudi needs to show the world it is progressing into a modern society if it wants to keep it's global relevance and it does not need to let go of it's unique place in the Muslim world to do so.

Telcoguy 8 years ago

@Billy actually they do not need to do anything at all. For as long as they...
- can act as a buffer against oil disruption nobody (at least in the west or China) will mess with them.
- keep control of Islam's holy places they will maintain a leading role in the Muslim world.
- can keep the oil revenue high enough to keep things running smoothly there will be no internal challenge.

In any case the Saudis have been fairly consistent on their behavior, there is no confusion about what they want to be. They have misled no one, and they backtracked on no promises.

Yes, I find "interesting" that they may behead someone accused of witchcraft and then fly to the US/WE to get the most advanced medical treatment money can buy... But that is their choice. And actually, do I think they could do better with some changes, yes I do. Do they care, no they don't. Am I actually sure that the changes I would like to see would really be for the better? Nope.

Mark Renton 8 years ago

The key phrase being "KNOWN magicians" - since no-one actually has any real magical powers these people are not magicians - if anything they should simply be treated as con artists. Ideally, though, people would just simply laugh at them and pay them no further attention.

Lionheart 8 years ago

Your comments are testament of why certain parts of this region and certain sectors of society are looked at with suspicion and total ignorance. For a gentlemen with letters after his name i would expect a more measured, articulate and educated response .

SAM 8 years ago

Amnesty must have received and wasted a sizable grant and now has to justify spending it. I see no purpose for this fuss, unless Amnesty was paid by Hollywood for promoting Harry Potter's new DVD relase. Each culture has its own customs and laws; it would be really boring to have a unified law that governs the entire globe. Yes, it appears cruel to a Westerner but it is also perceived to be just and fair in Arabia. So does Amnesty expect Arabia to change its laws and customs to please the West? It won't happen. How many wizards, warlocks, witched and magi did Arabia behead in the last decade? I am sure a lot less than the number of innocent people killed in the US through police brutality each year. There are more serious matters going on in the world right now that warrant addrssing by Amnesty, unless sensationalism is there new way for getting funding.

Lionheart 8 years ago

That's like saying Pol Pot was ok because he didn't muder as many as Hitler and the Third Reich .

His Excellency Dr Paul 8 years ago

Sam, you suggest that beheading witches is 'perceived to be just and fair in Arabia'. You're trying to put a positive spin on the local culture, but in fact you're just insulting the vast majority of Arabs who are not poorly educated, simple-minded fools that believe in magic and sorcery.