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Palestinian poet execution overturned sentenced to 800 lashes

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A Saudi court overturned the death sentence for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh on Tuesday, his lawyer announced in a statement the same day.

Fayadh was sentenced to the death penalty in November for “apostasy” and allegedly emitting “blasphemous statements” in some of his poetry.

The poet’s sentence has been changed to eight years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court of the city of Abha in southwestern Saudi Arabia.

Fayadh’s lawyer, Abd al-Rahman al-Laham, hailed the downgraded sentence, while maintaining that Fayadh was innocent on all charges.

Under the new sentence, Fayadh would be subjected to 16 sessions of 50 lashes each, al-Laham said.

The lawyer added that he would appeal in the coming days.

In May, the general court of Abha sentenced had Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes, but the prosecution, which had called for the death sentence, had successfully appealed. The downgraded sentence effectively adds four more years in prison to the original sentence.

Fayadh has denied all charges against him, saying that another man made false accusations to the country’s religious police following a personal dispute.

Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice arrested Fayadh in January 2014 for poetry he had published in 2008.

Fayadh had previously been arrested in 2013 after a complaint was filed against him alleging that he spread “misleading ideas.” However, he had quickly been released due to lack of evidence.

In November, Human Rights Watch slammed the death sentence handed down to Fayadh, calling it “yet another indictment of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.”

According to the organization, Saudi Arabia executed 158 people in 2015, the highest number of executions in the Wahhabi kingdom in 20 years.MA’AN NEWS AGENCY

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  1. The 800 lash-punishment is utterly incomprehensible. It is cruel, inhumane and cannot have a basis in Islam. The Saudi regime and everyone who defends the Shariah would struggle to justify this punishment even for something that is really a crime. This poet is punished for thinking, writing and speaking.

  2. Glossary:
    Wahhabi (Arabic; also Wahabi, Wahabite, Wahhabist, Wahhabite), the inward-looking, purist group within Sunni Islām. Named after its founder, Muḥammad bin ’Abd Al-Wahhāb al-Tamīmī (1703-1792), Wahhabism is an extreme ideology that clings to joyless, rigid beliefs and intense literalism, and is at the opposite end of the spectrum of Islām to Sufism. Most Wahhabis believe, as an example, that aspects of Sufi intercessory norms compromise monotheism. Medieval Islamic theologians Sheikh Taqī ad-Dīn Aḥmad bin ’Abd Al-Ḥalīm bin ’Abdus Salām ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) and Sheikh ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 1350) were Wahhabi torch bearers. Wahhabis, these days, prefer to refer to themselves as Salafis. Sheikh ’Abd Al-’Azīz bin ’Abdullah bin Bāz (d. 1999), Sheikh Muḥammad bin Sālih bin Muḥammad al-’Uthaymin (1925-2001), Sheikh Abū Bakr al-Jazā’irī (d. 1999), Sheikh Muḥammad Nasīr al-Dīn al-Albanī (1914-1999) and Sheikh Muqbil bin Hadī al-Wādi’ī (d. 2001) were Salafi respondents. Their students further propagated their narrow-minded, errant creed. Present these days in Muslim communities in most parts of the world, Wahhabism has become more a dry, stripped-down, Saudi-supremacist state ideology than a set of religious beliefs. In Saudi Arabia, the king relies on the descendents of Muḥammad bin ’Abd Al-Wahhāb for the country’s religious policies, they in turn acting as protectors of al-Sa’ūd’s political dominance. A pact between Muḥammad bin ’Abd Al-Wahhāb al-Tamīmī and Muḥammad bin Saūd (d. 1765) began an accord between their families that established the first Saudi state. This pact was based on al-Sa’ūd lending its weight to the religious authority of Muḥammad bin ’Abd Al-Wahhāb and his descendants, and Al ash-Sheikh (bin ’Abd Al-Wahhāb’s descendants) supporting the political control of al-Sa’ūd. This agreement continues to direct Saudi clerical and political discourse.

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