On pace to meet last year’s figure

Saudi Arabia likes executing people even more than the US does.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, a human-rights group, said 146 people were executed in 2017, slightly lower than 154 in 2016. “Such a level of executions has not been witnessed since the mid 1990s,” the group said in a report released this week. The group said that as of April 2018, Saudi authorities had executed 47 people and were on pace to meet last year’s figure. Dozens more, it said, continue to face the death penalty, including some under the age of 18.

That’s out of a population of 32 million, so a tenth of ours in the US. We executed 23 people last year, 20 the year before that – with a high of 98 in 1998; source. Both are shameful but the Saudis are ahead of us on the numbers.

Saudi Arabia employs the death penalty, which sometimes is carried out by gunfire, and usually in public, in response to a wide variety of transgressions, including murder, adultery, atheism, and sorcery and witchcraft. Despite this, it has in recent years found itself on various UN panels that oversee human rights and women’s rights around the world. (The country is hardly alone in its punitive practices—or its membership of elite UN panels. Iran, its main regional rival, executes more people per capita than anyone else in the world, also citing shariah as justification; techniques include stoning, hanging, and being thrown off a cliff. The U.S. is among the few Western nations that conducts executions, though it is mostly carried out by lethal injection.)

Saudi Arabia’s practices have been widely condemned by the international community and human-rights groups, but given its angry response to Canada’s alleged “interference” in its internal affairs, the kingdom looks unlikely to change the way it metes out its punishments. Saad al-Beshi, a Saudi executioner, said in a 2003 interview that he was “very proud to do God’s work.”

“It doesn’t matter to me: two, four, 10—as long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute,” he said, according to the BBC. He added: “No one is afraid of me. I have a lot of relatives, and many friends at the mosque, and I live a normal life like everyone else. There are no drawbacks for my social life.”

Yes, that’s the big danger of religion, that delusion that one is “doing god’s will” and that that makes whatever horrible thing one is doing Good and Virtuous.

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