SAUDI Arabian authorities are all set to carry out the death sentence on an atheist named as Ahmad Al-Shamri for making disparaging remarks about the prophet Mohammad after his appeal against the judgement was rejected.
Back in 2014, Mr Al-Shamri was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy and subsequently charged to court after he uploaded a series of videos reflecting his views on social media. Mr Al-Shamri in his early 20s who hails from the city of Hafar Al-Batin, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, was subsequently sentenced to death in February 2015.
Hala Dosari, an advisory board member of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that Mr Al-Shamri initially pleaded insanity, saying that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he made the comments. She added that his trial focused heavily on Quranic law and little on any mitigating mental illness and as a result, Mr Al-Shamri has been sentenced to death for being an atheist.
After a lengthy appeals process, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has ruled against Mr Al-Shamri, rejecting his plea about mitigating circumstances. According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia, where leaving Islam is punishable by death in the ultra-conservative kingdom, carried out at least 154 executions in 2016 alone
Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at HRW, said: “The conservative religious folks have full control of the justice system, as 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.”
Saudi Arabia has been criticised by human rights groups over its record but was a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council until 2019. On January 1 2020, 14 new members were elected to the council including Armenia, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Namibia, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sudan and Venezuela.