A Palestinian Poet To Be Beheaded In Saudi Arabia For Being An Atheist

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in the news once again for gross human rights abuse after a Saudi court sentenced a Palestinian refugee to death on November 17, for being an atheist.

Ashraf Fayadh, a poet and artist who worked as a contemporary artist in Abha, a city in the south-western part of the country, was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

The Guardian reports that Saudi’s religious police first detained Fayadh in August 2013, after receiving a complaint that he was cursing Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism.

The complaint arose from a personal dispute that Fayadh had with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a café, Fayadh’s friends told human rights activists. The artist then report Fayadh to the country’s religious police.

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Although Fayadh was later released on bail, police arrested him again on January 1, 2014. The police then confiscated his ID and detained him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later.

When Fayadh was released on bail, he told activists “They accused me of atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society”, adding that the book, entitled “Instructions Within”, published in 2008, was “just about me being a Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

In May 2014, after his re-arrest, Fayadh was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court. Fayadh appealed against the ruling, but his appeal was dismissed. A new panel of judges ruled that he should be executed because they had gathered new evidence against him.

Two members of the religious police told the court that Fayadh had publicly blasphemed, promoted atheism to young people and conducted illicit relationships with women and stored some of their photographs on his mobile phone.

Fayadh denied the accusations of blasphemy, and told the court he was a faithful Muslim. According to the court documents, Fayadh said: “I am repentant to God most high and am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”

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The documents also stated that Fayadh had admitted to having relationships with the women. However, Fayadh later stated that his words had been twisted. He said the women in question were his fellow artists and that the photos on his phone, some of which he posted on Instagram, were taken during Jeddah art week—Saudi Arabia’s most important contemporary art event.

After the ruling, Fayadh told the Guardian in an interview, that he is shocked about the ruling and that he was never allowed to be represented by a lawyer throughout the trial. He said, “I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death.”

The Saudi authorities have given him a grace period of 30 days to appeal against the ruling; however, human rights activists say it is unlikely to change anything.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a young Saudi Arabian man who was arrested as a teenager, was also sentenced to death by crucifixion and decapitation after his death penalty appeal was denied.

According to the anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, when he was just 17-years-old, Ali was arrested for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012. He was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession. He was sentenced to death in May 2014.

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Another liberal blogger, Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and years in prison for publishing articles deemed inimical to the values of the Kingdom.

A 19-year-old Shia woman who was gang-raped by seven men, was also sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail, after she was found guilty of speaking to the media about the incident.

But despite all these human rights violations, in September 2014, the United Nations (UN) elected Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Faisal Trad, as the new Chairman for the UN Human Rights Council Panel.

The UN Watch, a non-governmental watchdog organization based in Geneva, urged the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power and EU foreign minister, Federica Mogherini to speak against, and lobby for the appointment to be reversed due to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. I not sure if he has renounced Islam in actually. but if he really has then hang Saudi authorities for being a reason for this renouncement. their poor policies for Palestine has caused this man to renounce Islam. They just don’t want to take the responsibility… just want to pass it to another to become a victim…. sad judgment.

    • I consider myself an atheist, not because of the poor living standards of my country, but because I don’t believe in magic. I rather believe in physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics… I like art, be it written, played on an instrument, drawn or sculpted. This is because I’ve read more than one book in my life. This man has obviously done similar things, and consequentially, sentenced to death because of his broader views on this world. Muslims are sad, sad people that live inside of a cocoon.

      • The government and extremist practices of Saudi Arabia are what’s sad. Religion is a terrible thing in the wrong hands, but Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. are not conclusive representatives of the Muslim world, in which there are many countries that are comparatively progressive. I do not, for example, associate the peaceful Muslim men who run the corner market near my house with jihad, nor do I associate my Christian neighbors with Westboro. As an atheist I agree that religion is dangerous, but I do not make the ignorant mistake of using the same generalizing brush on entire groups of people as a result of the errors of some.

    • @riley redpath And yet he may not be an athiest. In fact he may be a matyr for a world that is waking up…and a country that Is very much fast asleep.

  2. My God is big enough to take peoples’ disbelief. It’s only those people who feel challenged that do these bad things. I believe my God delights in honest searching, be it about the way the World began or His own existence. Saudi Arabia would be a laughing stock it the results of their laws weren’t so horrible.

  3. Saudi king is gng t hell bcs he s taking someones life … He cant force someone to be slave and follow his act… There s no freedom… ISIS should attak saudi kingdom not paris LOL

  4. Islam, the religion of abuse, sexual harassment and killing. Good bye humanity
    Well, all religions are in fact against humanity, they all promote sexism, racism and killing anyone who opposes their beliefs. I’m glad the internet exists to expose those terrorist regimes. If you want to know the truth about the Saudi regime, check the book written by Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arab.

    Please sign this petition
    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Amnesty_international_Save_the_palestinian_poet_and_artist_Ashraf_Fayadh/?pv=1

  5. IF you would like to deal a blow to Christinsanity, Islamania and general bigotry against unbelief this festive season then join us mocking the poop out of religious faith:

    https://twitter.com/Order_Cockscomb

    Join the Illustrious Irrelevant Irreverant (and occasionally alliterative) Sublime Divine Supererogatory Order of the Cockscomb and help to ridicule the idiocy of the god of the gaps and the breaking of Ockham’s razor.

    Ockham’s Razor test:

    What is more ontologically and explanatorily parsimonious:

    A. Universe with complicated psychotic god being.
    B. Not A

    If you answered B, then join The Order:

    http://ordercockscomb.wix.com/cockscomb

  6. Does anyone here wish to do more than just talk about it, or be outraged?
    The Saudis don’t care what we think, but they do care what the multinationals
    doing business with them think. Below is a list of some of those corporations. Get their contact (CEO, Marketing Dept. …) email addys and send it with a letter of protest and threaten to stop doing business with them if they don’t get the Saudis to let this guy go free and end their regime of repression of poets,
    artists, writers and journalists. Here’s a list of some of these multinationals (when you get a contact addy, post it here so others can use it.)

    Here’s some of them:

    3M First Union Bank Pfizer International
    ABB FLIR Systems, Inc. Philip Morris
    The AES Corporation Fluor Daniel Phillips Petroleum Company
    Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P. Ford Motor Company PriceWaterhouse Coopers, L.L.P.
    American International Group General Dynamics
    Corporation Proctor & Gamble
    Amoco General Electric Rand Financial Services
    Arthur Andersen Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc.
    AT&T Guardian Industries Rock Creek Corporation
    Bank of America Halliburton Company The SABRE Group
    The Bank of New York Harris Corporation SAIC
    Bechtel Holiday Inn SBC Communications, Inc.
    Bell Atlantic IBM Samsonite
    Black & Veatch LLP Ingersoll-Rand Company Shell Chemical Company
    The Boeing Company J.F. Jelenko & Co. Sikorsky Aircraft
    Caltex Petroleum
    Corporation J.P. Morgan Teledyne Brown Engineering
    The Carlyle Group Jones Lang LaSalle Templeton International, Inc.
    The Chase Manhattan Bank LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene &MacRae, L.L.P. Texaco Inc.
    Chevron Chemical
    Company Litton Industries Tracor Aerospace Inc.
    Chicago Bridge & Iron Lockheed-Martin Trust Company of the West
    CIGNA Corporation Lucent Technologies Inc. TRW, Inc.
    Citicorp Marathon Oil Company Unocal International Ventures Ltd
    The Coca-Cola Company Marsh & McLennan Union Carbide Corporation
    COLSA International Merck & Co., Inc. VeriFone Inc.
    Conoco Inc. Mobil Corp. Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard,
    McPherson and Hand
    Deloitte & Touche Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Wamar International
    Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems Motorola Westinghouse
    Duke Engineering &
    Services M.W. Kellogg Company Whittaker
    Eastcom, L.L.C. Navistar International
    Corporation WorldSpace Corporation
    Eastman Chemical E.M.E.A Occidental Petroleum
    Corporation
    Eli Lilly and Company PACCAR International
    Enron Corp. Parsons Corporation
    Exxon Corporation Pepsi Cola International

  7. If atheists care about human rights and women rights they should also campaign for liberation of Dr. Afia. If you think she was a terrorist, then from a theistic perspective a blasphemer and apostate is also a spiritual terrorist. And, we believe God’s rights are more important than human rights, although the latter will also be questioned about on the day of judgement.

    • “Spiritual terrorist” Dude you are completely brainwashed. Do you understand what death is? Taking someone’s life? Is this what God advocates , the reason provided is “spiritual terrorist”!! LOL !!

      We need to understand Saudi Arabia is a “theocratic country” so this is bound to happen. There is no democracy. Day of judgement, cmon man get some life.

      I hear Islam is wonderful, peaceful religion, but the way I see it is practised and preached by Muslims, in some of the theocratic Muslim country it appears the worst. Very sad to read about the lashes to Shia women in Arab. What is the justification for this Mr.Abraham?

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