Indian man in Saudi Arabia faces beheading for posting image offensive to Islam

While we’re calling out countries for their violations of human rights, let’s not forget Saudi Arabia. According to two sources (here and here), an Indian gardner in Saudi Arabia has been arrested for posting an image on Facebook (taken from the Internet, I think) of the Hindu god Shiva sitting on top of the Kaaba, the structure in Mecca that’s seen as Islam’s holiest site. Here’s the tweet, along with another one (and there are many) calling for his imprisonment and execution:


The Saudi’s charge, of course, is blasphemy, and although it’s not clear what fate Shankar will face, beheading is certainly a possibility. The original report is said to have appeared in the Indian paper The Hindu, but I can’t yet find any links beyond the two above. And yes, admittedly Shankar should have known what the consequences might be, but his stupidity is no excuse for what the Saudis are doing to him.

Even if Shankar isn’t killed, the imprisonment of someone for offending religious sentiments is reprehensible, and of course Islamic states are the worst offenders for that. If I have one hope for 2017 (beyond the vain hope that Donald Trump behaves like Obama), it’s that we not only recognize the horrendousness of punishing people for criticizing fairy tales, but, when we see countries doing that, start calling it out.

It’s time that the U.S. takes a harder line about human rights with this “ally” when, at the same time, it’s excoriating Israel, which would not punish someone who posted a picture of Muhammad on top of the Western Wall.


Ponnam Shankar


  1. ploubere
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink


  2. ploubere
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    If the people demanding his execution are posting the same image, aren’t they as guilty?

    • Scote
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Yup. That’s blasphemy under Saudi law, too (not that they even have a Penal Code under their “judges just make it up as they go along” system of “justice”). But in this case, I think anti-immigrant racism and religious bias will protect the forwarders. Grrr.

      We still haven’t left the Dark Ages…

  3. rickflick
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    In an interview posted yesterday, the Saudi ambassador explained why they are intolerant of atheists and such. He said Arabia is a totally Islamic nation. Everyone there is Muslim and so they do not accept any other view. Allowing alternative views is a societal disruption.

    I suppose his position is internally logical and consistent if you consider that Saudi Arabia is isolated on another planet with no responsibility to the rest of the world. They have not progressed, culturally, for at least a thousand years.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but they drive a lot of fine 21st century cars. Just not the females. I’m sure Germany is very happy for the exports.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted December 30, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        Not that Germany is the only country benefiting economically from exporting to the Saudis. I am sure the US is happy for the arms sales to Saudi Arabia (as indeed is my own country,the UK).
        In exchange for oil, exports and “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” our governments are prepared to turn a blind eye to some awful things.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 30, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

          Perhaps omniscient and high-minded U.S. arms manufacturers should rise to the occasion and advise how best to solve this situation. Or better yet, university SJW’s.

    • Mark R.
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      It seems this Saudi ambassador lacks faith; perhaps he realizes how fragile the belief in fairy tales really is.

      • Kevin
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        I am not sure theocracies need any faith, just submission.

    • Posted December 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      “Everyone there is a Muslim.”

      Well, evidently not.


      • rickflick
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        They will be shortly.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      To be a Saudi citizen you must be a Muslim. If the ambassador said “everyone there is Muslim” he is referring to the citizens only & is blind to the guest worker serfs such as this Hindu gardener.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        I was just paraphrasing from memory. He probably said it was a homogeneous culture, referring to citizens. I’m not sure how much slack they allow for visitors.

    • Dave
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      They would reject the entire concept of “cultural progress”. In their eyes, the social and political system established by Mohammed in early 7th-century Arabia is the apex of human civilisation, as it represents the physical manifestation of the divine will. Any departure or deviation from that is to be resisted. Their few concessions to modernity, such as the formal abolition of slavery, were made grudgingly in the very recent past, as a result of pressure from the outside world that at the time they were too weak to resist. But when given the chance (e.g. in ISIS-controlled territory where external pressures don’t apply), muslims will unashamedly restore slavery, torture, public execution and many other practices we consider utterly barbarous. If it was done in Mohammed’s time, then it’s valid, and indeed obligatory, to do it now.

      Of course they will drive cars, use computers, watch TV and all the rest – those are just toys and trinkets that can be enjoyed without compromising the social structure they see as the ideal. ISIS use every kind of modern weapon they can lay hands on – they don’t charge into battle wielding swords and spears.

      • somer
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Yes but they deny the scientific thinking and physics that made all those technological goodies possible – they just don’t see the link because they insist Islam includes any scientific truth. The only nobel winning Muslim physicist (and probably only hard scientist to win a top award) was Abdul Salam an Ahmadi who isn’t even recognised in Pakistan. Ironic given Salam set up the physics program in Pakistan with the money which is only continued because of the nuclear program and respect for Abdul Quadeer Khan. Pervez Hudbhoy has stated the appalling state of education about science in Pakistan – they just deny it all, or make bizarre fairy tale claims and say all real science comes from Islam.

        • Dave
          Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          Yes, in that sense they are parasites, completely dependent on the scientific and technological progress made in the West (and those other parts of the world that are not lobotomised by Islam – Japan, China, South Korea and so on). If it wasn’t for the geological accident that much of the world’s oil lies under the “nations” of the muslim Middle East/North Africa, most of their inhabitants would be impoverished camel-herders living in tents, and utterly irrelevant to the rest of humanity.

          • somer
            Posted December 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

            Arabic Islam has had advanced civilisations – which largely drew on other cultures but developed some of their own civilisation, and added some things to science but quickly ossified. Iran already was an advanced culture

  4. Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Remember that the Quran says polytheists (like atheists) should be killed. Wonderful ally the US has there.

  5. Christopher
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Not that the Saudi govt. will give a shit, but there is a small (like 30 people) petition asking the Saudis to free him, and the Indian govt. to actually pay attention (but why would they?) to this issue. He’s as good as dead, I’m afraid. Even if he is released and returns to India, he will living under a death warrant.

    Poor bastard.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The Saudi’s should constantly be reminded that the intolerance of religion is not acceptable in the free world. Execution and Fear will not win you converts.

    • Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I am afraid that people are converting to Islam all the time.

  7. busterggi
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Everyone is worried about the guy who posted the image – doesn’t anyone else watn to know if Shiva flushed after he finished?

  8. Mark R.
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s time that the U.S. takes a harder line about human rights with this “ally” when, at the same time, it’s excoriating Israel, which would not punish someone who posted a picture of Muhammad on top of the Western Wall.

    Yes. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      + 1

    • Kevin
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      The US is not aligned with human rights. They are accomodationists. Want to have Sharia in your country? We (US) stand by you. It’s not our country and who are we to judge. It’s cultural relativism all the way down.

      • Christopher
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        What are you talking about? We have a great track record in human rights, just ask Central and South America!

        However, I’d argue it’s FINANCIAL relativism, not cultural, all the way down.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 29, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          You sayin’ our willingness to abide Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist-supporting autocracy has something to do with its having its paws on the oil spigot?

  9. GBJames
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink


  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Off subject just a tiny bit but it will be interesting to see how the incoming president takes the sanctions that Obama is putting on the Russians today for their Hacking. Probably sending a tweet to Putin in sympathy.

    • Scote
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      He’ll just offer them all office space in the White House – he doesn’t plan on using it himself anyway…

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, he will be up in Trump Towers eating Russian caviar. Maybe some hot tub with BeBe.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 29, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Oh, he’ll get plenty of use outta the Oval Office — as the backdrop for publicity vids. First thing they do, they’ll convert it to a tv sound-stage.

    • somer
      Posted December 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      yes I saw that. of course Trump is denying it
      Another current article exposes criminal Russian mafia oligarch Tokhtakhounov running international gambling ring out of Trump tower (apartment right below Trumps) catering to Russian oligarchs and laundering millions from Russia through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and other shell companies in the united states

  11. angelaevans773
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh how wonderful is this, this religion of peace!

  12. JoeB
    Posted December 29, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    The latest FFRF Black Collar Crime Blotter has 30+ items in the arrested/charged category. The last two are from India, but “one of these is not like the other”. One is a Hindu priest charged with rape of a 15 year old girl, brought to him by her parents for academic counseling. The other: torn pages of a Sikh hymnal were found alongside a canal. Gurjeet Singh, a Sikh priest, “admitted culpability”. The charge: littering?; no, “act intended to outrage religious sentiment”!
    If Mr. Shankar were back in India, he would face prosecution and imprisonment, but probably not 1000 lashes or the death penalty.

    • Sameer
      Posted December 30, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      I doubt if Mr. Shankar would face any sanction for posting this image if he were in India. The belief/conspiracy theory that the Islamic holy shrine – the kaaba in Mecca is actually a Shiva temple is very common among Hindu religious zealots. They similarly believe that the Taj Mahal was actually an ancient Shiva temple that Shahjahan converted into a mausoleum for his dead wife.

  13. Tom
    Posted December 30, 2016 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Since the very existence of rival gods, holy texts and religions is blasphemy to many believers, logically the only solution is…
    (Please enter according to the teachings of your religion)

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