Saudi Arabia sentences man to death for apostasy

Yes, this is the nation that the UN put on both it’s human rights and women’s rights councils. It’s a nation where, according to many sources (I quote the Independent), a man has been sentences to death not for blaphemy—for impugning Mohamed or Islam—but for apostasy: renouncing Islam. He’s going to die because he’s an atheist:

A  man in Saudi Arabia has reportedly been sentenced to death on charges of apostasy after losing two appeals.

Several local media reports identified the man as Ahmad Al Shamri, in his 20s, from the town of Hafar al-Batin, who first came to the authorities’ attention in 2014 after allegedly uploading videos to social media in which he renounced Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

He was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy and held in prison before being convicted by a local court and sentenced to death in February 2015.

At the time Mr Shamri’s defence entered an insanity plea, adding that his client was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of making the videos.

He reportedly lost an Appeals Court case, and a Supreme Court ruled against him earlier this week.

While news stories in the last few years consistently identify Mr Shamri, his identity or sentencing has not been verified by the Saudi authorities.

The Independent’s requests for comment from Saudi government representatives were not immediately answered.


  1. Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    … can’t some Muslims living in democratic lands condemn the oppression of Muslim theocracies?

    To his credit, Maajid Nawaz has spoken up and condemned this. But pointing to one individual just illustrates how abnormal that is.

    • J. Quinton
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but Maajid Nawaz is an Islamophobic right wing radical (according to the SLPC) so he doesn’t count.

      • Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        No doubt the SPLC are all in favour of executing apostates. Can’t have the poor oppressed Muslims being in any way upset that someone finds their religion unconvincing.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    If you live in KSA what the hell is the difference between culture and religion? They are precisely the same thing.

    • Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Well, of course, that’s the main problem with Islam period. There is no separation and no separation is really possible.

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Yes, the last tweet in particular does show the role of culture. “If someone criticizes your family, you’ll kill them…” That’s honor culture. The West has largely outgrown it. It would be nice if the rest of the world would catch up.

  3. ploubere
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Barbaric. This is no different than ISIS executions. But KSA is our ally.

    • Harrison
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Saudi Arabia’s tally of beheadings in 2017 is currently outpacing ISIS’s.

      I despise the so-called Islamic State.

      I also despise Islamic states, like Saudi Arabia. Surely there has got to be some price we’re not willing pay for cheap oil.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        But these are ‘culture beheadings’. Aslan, Greenwald, and Armstrong are victims of their own accommodation if they do not condemn these theocratic actions as faith justified.

  4. busterggi
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “We shall apply Sharia law on him to protect our society from Allah’s punishment”

    A simple admission that believers really don’t trust their god to be fair & just but are terrified to say it.

  5. rickflick
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to think the appointment of Saudi as members of the human rights and women’s rights councils is a subversive maneuver to lay them open to criticism by other members of the councils. When violations of morality occur, they can be chided mercilessly by every other participant until, under the weight of embarrassment and shame, they will become quintessential advocates for justice and rights. Maybe we can change the world!

    • Ian Clark
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      I’ll accept this hypothesis when I see the evidence.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      As Jake Barnes said to Lady Brett, “isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  6. Nell Whiteside
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The above tweets are bloodthirsty and barbaric. How can this religion claim to be moral when it encourages such vengeful behavior?

    Perhaps humans are innately violent and some cultures/religions are able to use reason to curb this aggression, whist others are not?

    Faris is very brave. Would that there were more like him/her in this crazy world.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      I think [some percentage of] Islam is barbaric too. The Saudi version most certainly is.

      But I do have to point out you could find exactly the same sort of stuff on Tw*tter from Xtians (and probably Jews, Hindus, and Justin Bieber fans too).

      My only point is that Tweets aren’t really very strong evidence of any proposition.


  7. Tom
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure that any god reads these tweets.
    If these twits are trying to prove thair devotion to Islam they may be wasting their time.
    The Ulama has actually controlled the cloud cuckoo land of the KSA for many years, hence we cannot expect any reasonable behaviour from the population.
    Perhaps Mr Shamri will join that long lists of victims that are and will be Islam’s shame in the centuries to come.

    • eric
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure that any god reads these tweets.

      I am very sure this more about virtue signaling to humans more than virtue signaling to God.

      When the people around you start chanting “kill the witch”, and you don’t join in, who do you guess will be the next one accused of witchcraft?

    • somer
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      most of the population are conservative

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    … Aslanians, Greenwaldians, and Armstrongians …

    Sound like characters in Gulliver’s Travels — and deserve the same Swiftian skewering.

  9. Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Okay.The person quoting doesn’t say where these quotes originated. I assume that these may be the prevailing opinions of many Muslims in countries that are steeped in the notion of religious intolerance. I’d expect there to be little support for the plaintiff in any country where Sharia is the law of the land. It’s just not sane to speak out under those conditions.

    No doubt Saudi Arabia is a bastion for religious intolerance. I don’t know what the UN is thinking other than they (Saudis) have a lot of money and influence.

    I have no idea how many American Muslims might be sympathetic to Ahmad Al Shamri’s plight. It would be interesting to find out.

  10. nicky
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Here on this website we are somewhat ‘preaching to the converted’. It is kinda monotonous, time and again.
    We know the KSA is no better than DAESH’s ‘Caliphate’: despotic, misogynistic, ‘patriarchal’, medieval, belligerent and intolerant.
    And Linda Sasour, one of the leaders of the ‘Woman’s March’ is preaching it’s virtues. Nauseating.

    • nicky
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      And I forgot: murderous. Can Al Shamri still be saved? After all, the KSA is our ‘ally’.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 28, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        I doubt it. He has broken the law – it is illegal to be an atheist in Saudi Arabia even if you were never a Muslim. It is a very recent law – maybe 2014 or not much before. It’s not just apostasy that’s illegal there.

        The punishments for many crimes in Saudi Arabia are exactly the same as DAESH. People believe they are pleasing Allah, and it would be irresponsible NOT to kill atheists and apostates for the sake of everyone else.

        And as infiniteimprobalilit points out above, there are plenty of people from other religions who believe the same thing. It’s just that the law doesn’t usually cooperate with them.

        There are several non-Muslim countries (as well as Muslim ones) that still kill witches too. Papua New Guinea in particular comes to mind. You can find short documentaries on YouTube, mainly from Aussie TV, about it. The perpetrators genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 28, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          “there are plenty of people from other religions who believe the same thing. It’s just that the law doesn’t usually cooperate with them.”

          Point taken.


  11. Eduardo
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I cannot believe this is happening in 2017.

  12. Zach
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I had an idea for a novel a few years ago. It takes place somewhere in Europe in the Late Middle Ages, and the protagonist is a “congenital atheist”—someone who is simply not wired for supernatural belief. I think people like this have always existed, in all times and in all places. Even in places where they had to keep their non-belief under wraps for fear of being murdered by their superstitious neighbors.

    As a Westerner I naturally imagined a Christian context. And, just as naturally, I thought the story would have to take place in medieval times for it to pack a real Orwellian punch, with the protagonist’s life hanging in the balance over their struggle with thought-crime. Then I read this essay on Richard Dawkins’s website, written by a man who, as a teenager in Saudi Arabia, downloaded and read a PDF of The God Delusion. And I realized that, in certain places, in the 21st century, this story is still playing out in the real world:

    Try to imagine reading a forbidden book in secret and then going out into the street or sipping tea with your family with a lurking, lingering fear that the criminal things you’ve been reading will somehow bubble out on their own, exposing your viciousness and treachery to everybody. Imagine the guilt of having such thoughts among people who would think you evil or even dangerous if they knew.

    No fiction required.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 27, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      The essay is a very moving account. I’m sure to many of us raised in present day US culture we can identify with it, although not to the same degree and sense of danger. No, the risk in living in dogmatic religious cultures is not just a thing of the past.

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Generalizing, I think there have been those of a (proto)scientific mindset in all places and all ages, too. There’s a collection of stories about fossils in one part of the Canadian Arctic I read somewhere – almost all of them are fantastic ‘tall tales’ – yet one Inuk said it just was that long ago that part of the earth was under water (as he knew perfectly well that oceans ebb and flow and there are floods and so on) and had since dried out.

      And people have the *gall* to claim that science is “western”. That (despite the claim being protoscience) is an insult to that Inuk and everyone else like him – and to the species.

  13. somer
    Posted April 27, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    as per the comments “if you’re low-key atheist that’s fine – but once you talk in public and criticise God you should be punished” and “he should be consulted 3 times – if he didn’t change his mind kill him – thats punishment for apostasy in our religion Islam” –
    Both of these things are standard Islamic law from the hadith and law books. Also apart from whats said in religious books – a number of ex Muslims who’ve lived or grown up in Saudi say that a large majority of the population supports very conservative Islamic values and are if anything more conservative than the royal family – which is afraid of offending the clerics and the population. Of course most are formerly bedouin, so amongst the most conservative forms of Islam. After all, though even the lawbooks of “moderate” shaafi school of islam state that the people should overthrow a leader if he is not devoutly muslim and he is not willing to fight for Islam. This is described in terms of “Justice” (Guidance of the Traveller). Meanwhile sunnis and shias are killing each other all over the region, the mob killing of an atheists and “blasphemers” has become a thing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a boy has just been beaten to death in a Malaysian Islamic school – from infection after he had both his legs amputated (BBC radio said the government gives money to these schools but they are not subject to any regulation). The beating was the traditional islamic one of beating on the soles of the feet – bastinado – this was so severe as to caused an infection throughout the legs

  14. Mike
    Posted April 28, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I despair.

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