800 lashes, in 16 installments

Ashraf Fayadh’s death sentence has been overturned, but he still faces prison and torture. This is what the Saudis do – they say oh all right, if you’re going to get that upset, we won’t kill the liberal guy, the Sri Lankan woman who had sex, the guy who wrote poetry, we’ll just lock them up for years and years and maybe torture them too.

A Saudi court has overturned the death sentence of a Palestinian poet accused of renouncing Islam, imposing an eight-year prison term and 800 lashes instead. He must also repent through an announcement in official media.

Saudi Arabia, where the state religion is absolutely mandatory, on pain of torture, prison and death. Saudi Arabia, that prides itself on living according to its state religion, which kills people for attempting to escape it.

Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “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.”

The 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.”

Exactly. South Africa was a pariah state. Why isn’t Saudi Arabia a pariah state? Is it just so that we can keep driving our giant cars?

The death sentence imposed in November provoked a worldwide outcry.

Hundreds of leading authors, artists and actors, including the director of Tate Modern, Chris Dercon, the British poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and actor Helen Mirren, have appealed for his release. More than 60 international arts and human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the writers’ association PEN International, have launched a campaign calling on the Saudi authorities and western governments to save him. Readings of his poetry in support of his case took place in 44 countries last week.

Jo Glanville, the director of English PEN, which appealed for Fayadh’s release, said: “It is a relief that Ashraf Fayadh no longer faces execution, but this is a wholly disproportionate and shocking sentence. It will cause dismay around the world for all Ashraf’s many supporters. The charges against him should have been dropped and he should be a free man today. We will continue to campaign for his release.”

A god that won’t let us leave is a kidnapper and an enslaver. Fuck that god.


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