Palestinian Poet Sentenced To Death In Saudi Arabia For ‘Renouncing’ Islam

 Ashraf Fayadh

Ashraf Fayadh

Historically, only one institution has thrived for so long, appointing themselves the arbiters of the final revelation from God.

However, somewhat suspiciously- all the power they gain from that privileged position is wielded here on earth. And the greatest reward due the followers is, somewhat conveniently, in the afterlife.

I think there is a saying about how if something sounds too good to be true, it literally is too good to be true. Although I do not consider the claims of religions particularly truthful, the followers do- and they never seem to pick up on this.

Also, those who always claim power from God often wield it in terrible ways on this planet, and somehow it never loses them the favour of their followers. In the past, when Christianity had a huge grip on the world, we saw what happened- and that is what is happening in the unbridled theocracies of the Middle East now.

For the alleged ‘crime’ of renouncing Islam, a Pakistani poet is being sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. Atheist writers get butchered to death in Bangladesh at roughly the rate of once every month, and the extreme dictatorships sentence dissidents, blasphemers, and other people exercising their fundamental rights to death routinely.

It’s almost as if the house of cards would tumble with the slightest poke. Almost all gods I know of are too thin skinned.

According to the Guardian, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced to death by a court in Saudi Arabia for renouncing Islam. Fayadh’s relatives say his real crime is posting a video showing ‘religious’ police beating a man in public.

Ashraf Fayadh with art historian Chris Dercon


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He was initially sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes, but then got the death sentence on appeal, in which he had no representation.

Via The Guardian….

A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.

Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha,

But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried last month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.

Mona Kareem, a migrant rights activist from Kuwait who has led a campaign for the poet’s release, said: “For one and a half years they promised him an appeal and kept intimidating him that there’s new evidence.

“He was unable to assign a lawyer because his ID was confiscated when he was arrested [in January 2014]. Then they said you must have a retrial and we’ll change the prosecutor and the judges. The new judge didn’t even talk to him, he just made the verdict.”

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

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He was released on bail after one day but the police arrested him again on 1 January 2014, confiscating his ID and detaining him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later. According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair.

“I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death,” Fayadh told the Guardian.

The whole ‘trial’ has been an exercise in Kangarooism. He has been hit with charges of atheism and spreading ‘destructive ideas’ in society. The entire appeal the new judge barely listened to his side.

Sadly, this is nothing new in the Kingdom of America’s foremost mid-east ally. Remember Mohammed Al-Nimr, sentenced to death as a 17 year old for attending a public rally? Women are mistreated in this country, all under the pretence of religion. Although, you really cannot complain- because that would be demonising an entire religion.

Saudi Arabia is not representative of Islam, but they are a part of it. There are some truly destructive ideas in the Quran, just as there are in any other holy book- and one should be able to criticise those without having to face charges of bigotry and Islamophobia.

And, it just reinforces how absolute power corrupts, especially when you can justify it as being from God. We would do well not to forget that.