Saudi Arabia has executed a 60-year-old woman for practicing “witchcraft and sorcery.” The beheading of Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser in the northern province of Jawf yesterday has angered international human rights organisations and sparked the ridicule of netizens on Twitter.
According to news reports, the woman was accused by the religious police who arrested her for “tricking people into thinking she could treat illnesses” and charging them money for the “treatment.” She was arrested in April 2009 and convicted in a Saudi court.
Amnesty International described the beheading as “deeply shocking and highlights the urgent need for a halt in executions in Saudi Arabia.”
“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,” said Philip Luther Amnesty International’s interim Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
On Twitter, Ahmed Al Attar, from Abu Dhabi, the UAE, mocks:
@AhmedwAlAttar: Lets all congratulate Saudi, the beheading of the dubiously-judged “witch” means they have now entered the 16th century.
Emirates-based journalist Tom Gara jokes:
@tomgara: Doesn't Saudi Arabia know that beheading a witch only increases her magical powers?
And Canadian Kevin Carter adds:
@wapimaskwa69: Woman beheaded for being a witch. Not a Monty Python sketch, just another day in Saudi Arabia.
Qatar-based Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell asks:
@blakehounshell: Curious to know: How does one prove the charge of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia?
The question garnered some funny reactions. Fatma Makki, from Muscat, Oman, responds:
@fatamo: @blakehounshell 1)See if she floats if u drop her in a barrel of oil 2) Give her car keys: if she knows what to do with it she's obv[iously] a witch
And Bahraini Abdulla Al Romaihi notes:
@Abdulla287: No, they push them off a cliff if she flies she's a witch, if not then she dies & goes to heaven ( :
Saudi Arabia has executed at least 79 people, including five women, this year, according to Amnesty International. This is triple the number of executions, compared to last year when 27 people were beheaded.
The human rights organisation adds:
Hundreds more people are believed to be under sentence of death, many of them convicted of drugs offences. They have often had no defence lawyer and in many cases have not been informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them.