With Rahman Mohammed Asghar’s beheading last week, Saudi Arabia’s tally of judicial executions soared up to 74 for the year – the third behind Iran and Iraq. This was the ninth Pakistani executed by the Saudi authorities in the last couple of months. Asghar was executed for heroin smuggling, with the sentence being carried out in Khobar.
Earlier in May prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death, for “inciting violence and supporting unrest in Qatif”. Qatif is the home to many of Saudi Arabia’s minority sects who suffer from state sanctioned discrimination. This includes Shia Muslims, which at around two million form about 15 percent of the Kingdom’s population. Qatif has been the hub of protests for over three years now.
Mohammed Bakr al-Alaawi, was executed for ‘sorcery’ this year by the Saudis, making him the third man to be killed for alleged magical prowess since 2011. ‘Practising witchcraft’ is one of the multitude ‘crimes’ which are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. The law enforcing authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested 215 alleged magicians in 2012. Some of these allegations are conjured simply because of a cultural heirloom that a South Asian worker might possess that is deemed suspicious enough by the Saudi master for an accusation of sorcery.
Raif Badawi, who is the cofounder of ‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’, a website that was created as a public forum for progressive voices to interact and discuss much needed reform in the Kingdom, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, 1,000 lashes and a million Saudi riyals in May by the Criminal Court of Jeddah. Badawi was initially jailed for seven years in 2012 for alleged violation of Saudi Arabia’s outmoded IT regulations and ‘insulting religious authorities’ via his writing. In December 2013, his case was sent to Jeddah Criminal Court, with the charge of ‘apostasy’, which is punishable by death.
In April this year Saudi Arabia introduced new laws which defined atheists as terrorists
In April this year Saudi Arabia introduced new laws which defined atheists as terrorists. Saudi atheists can now face dual charges of apostasy and terrorism in the country, both would result in them being publically beheaded.
Meanwhile, women’s rights activist, Souad Al-Shammary, has been arrested and accused of “provoking rebellion and promoting cynicism towards religion” owing to a tweet in which she stated the most obvious of facts that the Saudi society is “male-dominant.”
With absurd arrests and executions galore, it’s obviously the Saudi judicial system that needs reform. The Saudi legal system is based on Shariah, but unlike other countries that derive their jurisprudence from the Islamic law, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a penal code. This means that the punishment for the accused is at the mercy of a judge’s interpretation, and personal understanding of the Islamic law.
This results in ‘sorcerers’ being beheaded, while men like Fayhan al-Ghamdi can be released from jail after raping their daughters and torturing them to death, if they pay ‘blood money’. Despite agreeing to codify Shariah law back in 2010, and ostensibly agreeing to 180 of the 225 demands issued by United Nations’ human rights council last year, Saudi Arabia isn’t any closer to reforming its antediluvian judicial system.
In October three prominent lawyers, Abdulrahman al-Subaihi, Bander al-Nogaithan, and Abdulrahman al-Rumaih, were sentenced to prison terms of between five and eight years, for criticizing the Justice Ministry. And of course, no reforms can be expected when criticism is so blatantly outlawed.
The precipitous rise in beheadings in Saudi Arabia has coincided with the rise of Isis in the Middle East and penetration into South Asia. This has rendered the juxtaposition of brutalities inevitable, leaving one wondering if Isis’s beheadings would face similar bellowing silence if that Islamic State was founded over a fifth of global oil production.
Dissecting the buffet of human rights abuses that Saudi Arabia serves up can take up a library worth of literature, but the obvious question that needs to be asked is that why does Saudi Arabia continue to be immune from criticism from the rest of the Muslim world? While the West has geostrategic interests that can only be safeguarded through a stable Saudi Kingdom – at least until 2017 when US is expected to outdo Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production – why is the Muslim world not offended by what the self-proclaimed guardians and godfathers of Islam are doing?
From suffocating women to supressing free speech; from punishing rape victims to barefaced discrimination against minorities Saudi Arabia is using Islam to justify its savagery. And yet no one bats an eye when ‘yet another’ person is beheaded, lashed, stoned or criminally silenced for having an opinion, all in the name of Islam. The Kingdom isn’t accused of defaming Islam for its religious butchery, while there is hue and cry when Isis is addressed by its preferred name, with the world hankering after the most politically correct titles.
Saudi Arabia is a gold-plated Isis that has been using black gold to legitimise barbarity for over half a century. The oil money also helps finance the blood thirsty Takrifi Deobandis and their rather successful Shia genocide venture in Pakistan, Bahrain and recently in Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt as well. When it comes to defaming Islam, using Islam for violence or laying the foundation of anti-Muslim sentiments on the global stage, few entities come close to the unyielding legacy of Saudi Arabia.
If Isis has got nothing to do with Islam, then surely the Saudis haven’t got much to do with it either
When the Muslim world is silent on the rather visible crimes of its ‘leader’, why is there a relentless campaign to excommunicate, Isis, al-Qaeda, TTP, Boko Haram, et al, when they are nothing but a skimpy imitation of the Kingdom of al-Saud? If Isis has got nothing to do with Islam, then surely the Saudis haven’t got much to do with it either.
Both Saudi Arabia and Isis claim that Islam orders them to commit human rights abuses that have no place in the modern world. Both say that Islam is a monolith that encourages the use of brutal force to convert everyone to a narrow religious interpretation or become collateral damage in this jihad against Darul harb. Both Saudi Arabia and Isis depict Islam as a 7th century ideology that is incompatible with the 21st century. And considering the lack of outrage by the community that burns its own property over YouTube videos, the majority of Muslims agree.