Saudi Woman Beheaded for 'Witchcraft'
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Posted 15 December 2011 - 06:24 AM
A Saudi woman was beheaded after being convicted of practicing "witchcraft and sorcery," according to the Saudi Interior Ministry, at least the second such execution for sorcery this year. The woman, Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, was executed in the northern Saudi province of al-Jawf on Monday.
A source close to the Saudi religious police told Arab newspaper al Hayat that authorities who searched Nassar's home found a book about witchcraft, 35 veils and glass bottles full of "an unknown liquid used for sorcery" among her possessions. According to reports, authorities said Nassar claimed to be a healer and would sell a veil and three bottles for 1500 riyals, or about $400.
According to the ministry, Nassar's death sentence was upheld by an appeals court and the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council. Philip Luther, the interim direct of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program, condemned Nassar's killing, calling it "deeply shocking."
"The charges of 'witchcraft and sorcery' are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling," Luther said. Luther said that a charge of sorcery is often used by the Saudi government as a smokescreen under which they punish people for exercising freedom of speech.
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