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article imageSaudi Arabia beheads woman on charges of 'witchcraft and sorcery'

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By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 12, 2011 in World
Riyadh - Saudi authorities beheaded a woman on Monday for practicing witchcraft and sorcery. The woman Amina bin Abdulhalim Nassar, was executed in Saudi Arabia's northern province of Al Jawf. The Saudi Interior Ministry announced news of the execution.
Daily Mail reports that London-based al-Hayat Daily, quoted the chief of the religious police who arrested the woman, saying, she had deceived people that she had powers to heal the sick. According to the report, Nassar charged people $800 per healing session. The woman was arrested in April 2009 after a female investigator looked into the case.
CNews reports that Amnesty International's deputy director for Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said, "The Saudi authorities appear to have increased the number of executions in recent months, a move that puts the country at odds with the worldwide trend against the death penalty,"
She spoke after Saudi Arabia had eight migrant workers beheaded on charges of murder.
This is not the first time someone has been executed in Saudi Arabia on charges of "witchcraft and sorcery." According to Daily Mail, in September, a Sudanese man Abdul Hamid bin Moustafa al-Fakki, was executed after being found guilty of practicing sorcery. BBC reports that an Egyptian national was beheaded in 2007 for allegedly casting spells to separate a married couple. Last year, a Lebanese man who presented a television programme relating to fortune-telling faced the death penalty but was freed after the Saudi Supreme court decided he had not harmed anyone.
Amnesty International's Interim Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther, said: “The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling. 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.”
BBC reports that Saudi Arabia's conservative clerics have urged the use of the death penalty for "witchcraft and sorcery" because it is a threat to Islam.
There have been over 70 executions in Saudi Arabia this year, up from 27 executions in 2010. Philip Luther of Amnesty International commented on the increasing trend of executions in Saudi Arabia: “The huge rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia is deeply disturbing. We regularly call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to impose a moratorium with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Where the death penalty is used, under international law it should only be applied to the most serious crimes.”
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