TV Presenter On Death Row For Witchcraft

A man has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft because he makes predictions on television.



Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national. The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.

A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.

The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.

The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.

"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions."

Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.

He is not the only victim of Saudi Arabia's literal witch hunt. Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.

It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.

In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.

In 2006 a Jeddah court convicted an Eritrean national Muhammad Burhan for "charlatanry" because he possessed a phone book that contained writings in the Tigrinya alphabet used in Eritrea.

Human rights campaigners claim prosecutors classified the booklet as a "talisman" and the court accepted that as evidence, sentencing him to 20 months in prison and 300 lashes.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20091124/twl-tv-presenter-on-death-row-f...

Views: 12

Comment by Doug Reardon on November 27, 2009 at 6:38pm
Did you know that 85% of the university degrees awarded in Saudi Arabia are in Islamic Studies.
Comment by Doug Reardon on November 28, 2009 at 12:08am
Well, where's that leave the Jews, Natalie? Their the one's that started all this crap in the first place!
Comment by Doug Reardon on November 28, 2009 at 12:36am
Well, in the middle ages it was the Christians who were the worst. Don't get me wrong, I don't like Islam one bit, but I am much more likely to be killed by some crazed Christian than a Muslim, at the moment anyway.
Comment by Samantha J. on November 28, 2009 at 7:16am
This brings up the little kid type question, "But how can they do that? They shouldn't be able to do that!" But, sadly, for some reason in this world religion and government are still intertwined. It's terrifying to think you can be sentenced to death for having a book in a different language, and for giving advice and making assumptions.

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