Saudi woman executed for ‘witchcraft and sorcery’

A Saudi woman has been executed for practising “witchcraft and sorcery”, the country’s interior ministry says.

According to the BBC

A statement published by the state news agency said Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was beheaded on Monday in the northern province of Jawf.

The ministry gave no further details of the charges which the woman faced.

The woman was the second person to be executed for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia this year. A Sudanese man was executed in September. [...]

The London-based newspaper, al-Hayat, quoted a member of the religious police as saying that she was in her 60s and had tricked people into giving her money, claiming that she could cure their illnesses.

Our correspondent said she was arrested in April 2009.

But the human rights group Amnesty International, which has campaigned for Saudis previously sentenced to death on sorcery charges, said it had never heard of her case until now, he adds.

AFP says

Amnesty International said beheading took to 73 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year.

The London-based human rights watchdog condemned Monday’s execution as “truly appalling,” and called on the conservative kingdom to urgently halt the practice.

“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia”, said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s interim director of the Middle East and North Africa.

“To use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” he added in a statement, which stressed the “urgent need” to stop executions.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

Luther described as “deeply disturbing” the huge rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia.

Many of those executed have had no defence lawyer and are not informed about the legal proceedings against them, according to Amnesty.

“While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion,” Luther said.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘justice system’ is based on Sharia — Islamic Law.

All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails. In countries like Saudi Arabia, extremist interpretations of Sharia are often used to justify human rights abuses.

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