A Saudi Arabian man, Ahmad Al-Shamri, who renounced Islamic religion and made disparaging remarks about prophet Mohammed has been sentenced to death. The attention of the country’s authorities was drawn towards Al-Shamri in 2014 after he uploaded some videos reflecting his views on social media.
He was subsequently arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy, faced trial and was sentenced to death in February 2015. Al-Shamri is in his early 20s and comes from the city of Hafar Al-Batin, located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.
According to Washington Post, he first pleaded insanity, declaring that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he made the comments. An Advisory Board member of the Human Rights Watch, HRW, Hala Dosari, told the newspaper, “His trial focused heavily on Quranic law and little on any mitigating mental illness.
As a result, Al-Shamri has been sentenced to death for being an atheist.” After a lengthy appeals process, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court ruled against Al-Shamri on Tuesday (25 April). Amnesty International reports that the Gulf oil giant carried out at least 154 executions in 2016. The country has been habitually criticised by human rights groups over its human rights record, but it is still a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council. Its term expires in 2019.
Leaving Islam is punishable by death in the ultra-conservative kingdom. A Middle East researcher for HRW, Adam Coogle, said, “The conservative religious folks have full control of the justice system.“Judges come from religious seminaries in Saudi Arabia. They see themselves as preservers of Saudi Arabia’s character as an Islamic state. “And they come down hard on people who step out of line.”