From the newspaper:
In his speech read out by Minister of Culture and Information Adel Al-Turaifi and addressed to Muslims everywhere, the Saudi King emphasized the urgent need to realize Islamic unity at a time when the whole world reels under the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
He reiterated Saudi Arabia’s determination to close Muslims ranks and forge better ties with all countries of the world. He said Islam is the religion of peace and mercy, which calls for moderation and renunciation of violence and extremism.
The Saudi King asked Muslims everywhere to use the occasion of the holy month to stay united and devote their worship entirely to God alone.Now that is encouraging, but disturbing at the same time. It comes from the king of the country that gave us Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 9/11 hijackers. So his renunciation of extremism is encouraging.
But his definition of extremism is chilling.
Saudi Arabia executed 157 people last year, the most in 20 years. Amnesty International reported 40% of the execution were for drug-related crimes.
The United States had 28 executions last year.
Adjusted for population, Saudis executed at 60 times the U.S. rate of less than one execution per 10 million people.
From the Guardian:
Human Rights Watch found that of the first 100 prisoners executed in 2015, 56 had been based on judicial discretion and not for crimes for which Islamic law mandates a specific death penalty punishment.
Shariah scholars hold vastly different views on the application of the death penalty, particularly for cases of “ta’zir.”
Delphine Lourtau, research director at Cornell Law School’s Death Penalty Worldwide, adds that there are Shariah law experts “whose views are that procedural safeguards surrounding capital punishment are so stringent that they make death penalty almost virtually impossible.”
She says in Saudi Arabia, defendants are not provided defence lawyers and in numerous cases of South Asians arrested for drug trafficking, they are not provided translators in court hearings. She said there are also questions “over the degree of influence the executive has on trial outcomes” when it comes to cases where Shia activists are sentenced to death.These are public executions by beheading.
Things that can cost you your head in Saudi Arabia include adultery, apostasy, consumption of intoxicants, and homosexuality. None of these are even crimes in the United States.
Which raises the question: How extreme do you have to be to be considered extreme by this extremist?
I fear the answer.