Saudi Arabia sentences man to death for 'insulting religion'

Saudi Arabia sentences man to death for 'insulting religion'

2 min read
30 April, 2017
A Saudi court has reportedly sentenced a man to death for 'blasphemous' social media posts after losing a second appeal, local media has reported.
Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic law apostasy is punishable by death [Getty]

A Saudi court has reportedly sentenced a man to death for 'blasphemous' social media posts after losing a second appeal, local media has reported.

A court in eastern city of Hafar al-Batin handed down the sentence to Ahmad al-Shamri last week, two years after he was arrested for apostasy.

Shamri, who is in his twenties, was reportedly sentenced to death in February 2015 for posting videos on Kik Messenger of himself "insulting God, the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet's daughter Fatima, ripping up the Quran and hitting it with a shoe".

At the time, Shamri's lawyer told The New Arab that his defendant was mentally ill and that he had been under the influence of alcohol when he made the controversial videos.

The Arabic-language hashtag #ApostateHafarBatin has gained traction on Twitter, with many users cheering on the death sentence.

"God willing his head will fly. See what your freedom and stupidity has brought you. God has a greater punishment in store for you on Judgement Day," said one user.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic law, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Saudi Arabia carried out at least 154 executions in 2016 - just four fewer than the record high of 158 executions in 2015.

Last year, court in Saudi Arabia reduced a death sentence against a Palestinian poet convicted of "apostasy", giving him eight years in prison and 800 lashes instead

In 2012, Saudi Arabia arrested blogger and activist Raif Badawi who faced several charges including insulting Islam using electronic channels, and apostasy.

Badawi was sentenced to seven-years in prison and 600 lashes, of which he received 50 in the first round of public flogging.

Saudi Arabia has been a member of the UN's human rights council since September 2015

Last week, the kingdom was elected to the UN women's rights commission, sparking anger and widespread criticism.