April 1, 2010

Saudi Arabia - What century are we in here?


Saudi Arabia has sentenced a Lebanese television personality to be beheaded for practicing sorcery - yes, alternately described by the Saudis as "witchcraft" and "black magic." The November ruling has just been upheld by the original court.. The verdict must also be upheld by the Supreme Court and then ratified by King 'Abdullah.

There is precedent for this - in 2007, the Saudis beheaded an Egyptian man on the same charge. Arrests for sorcery are up in the Kingdom - there is a campaign among the religious police (mutawa', volunteers of the Committee to Prevent Vice and Promote Virtue) to stamp out the practice.

The Lebanese man, 'Ali Husayn Sibat, is not accused of practicing sorcery in the Kingdom, but on his television show which originates in Beirut. He was recognized while on a religious pilgrimage in the holy city of Medina and turned into the religious police. He was tried and convicted in short order.

Amnesty International claims that Sibat is being punished for exercising his "right" to freedom of speech. Memo to Amnesty International: There is no freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia executes (beheads) persons accused of rape, murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking, as well as the additional crimes against Islam, apostasy and sorcery. I understand the severe punishments for the four crimes, but apostasy and sorcery? What century are we living in?

I ask that question rhetorically. Those of us who have lived in "the magic kingdom" know the answer....