Saudi Arabian authorities have beheaded a Sudanese man convicted of murder, according to the kingdom’s Interior Ministry.
Othman Mohammed, who was found guilty of killing another Sudan native named Salah Ahmed, was executed in the holy city of Mecca.
Under Saudi Arabia’s harsh Islamic Sharia legal system, convicted murderers, rapists and drug traffickers, armed robbers and apostates face capital punishment.
The French government condemned the execution and reaffirmed “its firm and constant opposition to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances,” urging Saudi Arabia to an end executions and establish a moratorium.
Amnesty International said that 76 people have been executed so far this year in the kingdom, reported Agence France Presse. The BBC reported that 89 people shared that fate last year.
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Even the practice of “witchcraft” and “sorcery” can lead to execution in Saudi Arabia. Last year, a Saudi man named Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri was beheaded for such offenses after he was found to possess certain books and talismans. The state-controlled SPA news agency also said the condemned man admitted to committing adultery with two women.
It is believed that while “sorcery” is not listed as a crime punishable by death, conservative religious leaders strongly oppose certain practices like fortune telling and faith healing. A Sudanese man was also publicly beheaded last year for “sorcery,” despite pleas from Amnesty International and Western governments.
“[The] execution is appalling, as is Saudi Arabia's continuing use of this most cruel and extreme penalty,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"That he should have been executed without having committed anything that would appear to constitute a crime is yet another deeply upsetting example of why the Saudi Arabian government should immediately cease executions and take steps to abolish the death penalty.”
But an English-language Saudi newspaper called The Saudi Gazette defended such executions by declaring, “We must face up to the threats from some maids and servants and their Satanic games of witchcraft and sorcery, their robbery, murder, entrapment of husbands, corruption of children and other countless stories of crime that have been highlighted by both experts and victims of these crimes.”
Last summer, the beheading of a 54-year-old Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia sparked a backlash in her home country. Ruyati binti Satubi was executed following her conviction of murdering an allegedly abusive Saudi employer.
“Mecca is a holy place, but the people who live there are very uncivilized,” said the maid’s daughter, Een Nuraeni. “There is nothing in Islamic law that says you can torture or rape your housemaid.”