Sunday, November 29, 2015

On Retrial Saudi Court Sentences Poet To Death For Apostasy

The Star Daily Standard yesterday reported on a Nov. 17 judgment by a Saudi Arabian court that sentenced Palestinian artist Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy, apparently concluding he was spreading atheism.  In his original trial, he was sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison on charges that his 2008 Arabic poetry book “Instructions Within” was insulting to God and religion. Also on the basis of photos in his phone, he was charged with illicit relations with women. Prosecutors appealed, seeking a harsher sentence, and the appeals court remanded for a new trial.  At that trial he was sentenced to death. According to the Daily Standard report:
While judges in the initial trial also accepted Fayadh’s repentance for anything deemed offensive or insulting to religion in his book of poetry, judges in the retrial questioned whether repentance can nullify a proscribed punishment in a case involving “hadd”, which in Islam are specific crimes such as apostasy for which punishment is considered fixed. They also wrote that Fayadh’s repentance could only be accepted by the divine, and therefor they could not consider it when weighing the verdict.
It is likely the case will be appealed again.