Opinion

Saudi court overturns death sentence for Ashraf Fayadh; new sentence is 8 years and 800 lashes

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I stand naked every day without any judgment, without anyone needing to blow any last trump, because I have been sent on in advance. I am Hell’s experiment on the planet Earth.

The Hell that has been prepared for refugees. 

           Ashraf Fayadh ~ The Last of the Line of Refugee Descendants

Yesterday, a panel of judges in Saudi Arabia overturned the death sentence of Palestinian artist, curator, and poet Ashraf Fayadh but upheld the verdict of the crime of apostasy and sentenced him to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Fayadh was ordered to disown his writings, repent and apologize on official Saudi Arabia national television. His sentence calls for the lashings to be carried out “50 lashes at a time per session”.

A statement by Fayadh's attorney, Abdulrahman Al-Lahim, in response to the ruling.
A statement by Fayadh’s attorney, Abdulrahman Al-Lahim, in response to the ruling.

Stressing Fayadh’s innocence, his lawyer, Abdulrahman al-Lahim posted the details of his sentence on Twitter yesterday after presenting the court with an application for Kayadh’s release on bail and announced they would launch an appeal.

The document concludes with the statement (translated from Arabic):

The defense appreciates the department’s going back on its previous sentencing decision, and at the same time we would like to emphasize our conviction of the innocence of the poet Ashraf Fayyad from all the charges presented against him. He is in a legally sound position and stands by his defense that has already been previously heard in the sentencing objection document.

The Guardian cites Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch:

“Instead of beheading Ashraf Fayadh, a Saudi court has ordered a lengthy imprisonment and flogging. No one should face arrest for peacefully expressing opinions, much less corporal punishment and prison. Saudi justice officials must urgently intervene to vacate this unjust sentence.”

And UK author Irvine Welsh said:

“When this twisted barbarism is thought of as a compromise, it’s way past time western governments stopped dealing with this pervert regime.”

Fayadh’s previous November 17, 2015 sentence of execution by beheading was met with international outrage and calls for his requital. A world wide reading of his poems and other writings sponsored by International Literature Festival Berlin (iLb), supported by poets, artists, and intellectuals around the world including several Nobel Prize for Literature laureates, took place in January, and people from all over the world began uploading videos of themselves readings his poems on Youtube.

Fayadh was originally detained by Saudi Arabia’s religious police in August 2013 after he had an argument with another artist who alleged he had cursed Allah and the prophet Muhammad. The religious police claimed his 2008 book of poetry  Instructions Within promoted atheism. Fayadh said his book was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

Thanks to Zeina Azzam
Thanks to diasp0ra for Arabic translation

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50 lashes for each of 16 sessions.
What do you think – 2 sessions per year?

If 800 at once, it might kill people.

Is there another country, save Israel, that gets away with more crap?

Saudi Arabia is a sick, brutal country. But it’s the country Zio-supremacists look to when defending the “Jewish State”: { Zio-supremacist: The “Jewish State” is a Western-style democracy, a moral beacon and a light unto the nations! } { Normal person: Israel is a religion-supremacist state that has been occupying and colonizing Palestine and committing (war) crimes with impunity for decades. } { Zio-supremacist: Oh, yeah? Well, at least it’s not as bad as Saudi… Read more »

The day we see the end of Wahhabi totalitarianism will be a good day. The US backed fascists in the Gulf need to go.

What happens to him if he refuses to go along with the “public repentance” on national television? After all, what has he to repent for? He himself speaks like a prophet denouncing the wealthy and powerful. They never did like prophets. Israel cannot be defended by comparing it to Saudi Arabis because it too is a theocratic state. For historical reasons Israel is less extreme in this respect than Saudi Arabia, but it is making… Read more »