Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Burkha hides poet's face; facing death threats

Kudos to a Brave Saudi Housewife
[...] In a live broadcast across the entire Arab world, wearing her burkha, alone on stage, Hissa Hilal attacked hardline clerics as

‘vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt,’

The studio audience loved it. Viewers cast their votes for her. Militants issued death threats.




[...] Her poem was seen as a response to Sheik Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia who recently issued a fatwa saying those who call for the mingling of men and women should be considered infidels, punishable by death. But, more broadly, it was seen as addressing any of many hard-line clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region who hold a wide influence through TV programmes, university positions or websites.

‘Killing a human being is so easy for them, it is always an option,’ she told AP.

She described hard-line clerics as ‘vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind, wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt,’ in an apparent reference to suicide bombers’ explosives belts.

The three judges gave her the highest marks for her performance, praising her for addressing a controversial topic. That, plus voting from the 2,000 people in the audience and text messages from viewers, put her through to the final round. [...]

With death threats pouring in, it's perhaps just as well no one could see her face.

Also in Saudi Arabia:

Lawyer: Saudi could behead Lebanese for witchcraft
[...] BEIRUT – The lawyer of a Lebanese TV psychic who was convicted in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft said Thursday her client could be beheaded this week and urged Lebanese and Saudi leaders to help spare his life.

Attorney May al-Khansa said she learned from a judicial source that Ali Sibat is to be beheaded on Friday. She added that she does not have any official confirmation of this. Saudi judicial officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

A Lebanese official said Beirut has received no word from its embassy in Riyadh about Sibat's possible execution. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Saudi justice system, which is based on Islamic law, does not clearly define the charge of witchcraft.

Sibat is one of scores of people reported arrested every year in the kingdom for practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black magic and fortunetelling. These practices are considered polytheism by the government in Saudi Arabia, a deeply religious Muslim country.

[...]

Sibat made predictions on an Arab satellite TV channel from his home in Beirut. He was arrested by the Saudi religious police during his pilgrimage to the holy city of Medina in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November.

"Ali is not a criminal. He did not commit a crime or do anything disgraceful, " al-Khansa said. "The world should help in rescuing a man who has five children, a wife and a seriously ill mother."

She added that Sibat's mother's health has been deteriorating since her son was sentenced to death.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said last year that Sibat's death sentence should be overturned. It also called on the Saudi government to halt "its increasing use of charges of 'witchcraft,' crimes that are vaguely defined and arbitrarily used."

Last year, the rights group presented a series of cases in the kingdom, including that of Saudi woman Fawza Falih, who was sentenced to death by beheading in 2006 for the alleged crimes of "witchcraft, recourse to jinn (supernatural beings)" and animal sacrifice.

On November 2, 2007, Mustafa Ibrahim, an Egyptian pharmacist, was executed for sorcery in the Saudi capital of Riyadh after he was found guilty of having tried "through sorcery" to separate a married couple, Human Rights Watch said.

They execute tourists for witchcraft? No wonder Saudi Arabia is such a popular tourist destination. But what can you expect from a place that bans Valentine's Day, under harsh penalties? You can't exactly "feel the love".
     

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