Rights group rejects Saudi witchcraft charges
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia should overturn a death sentence imposed on a Lebanese national convicted of practicing witchcraft during a visit to the conservative kingdom, an international human rights group said in a report late Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch also called on the Saudi government to halt "its increasing use of charges of 'witchcraft,' crimes that are vaguely defined and arbitrarily used."
The report highlights the ongoing complaints over the Saudi justic system, which, while based on Islamic law, leaves a wide leeway to individual judges and can often result in dramatically inconsistent sentences.
Ali Sibat, a Lebanese psychic who made predictions on a satellite TV channel from his home in Beirut, was arrested by religious police in the holy city of Medina during a pilgrimage there in May 2008 and then sentenced to death Nov. 9.
Sibat is one of scores of people reported arrested every year in the kingdom by local papers for practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black magic and fortune-telling. These practices are considered polytheism by the government of this deeply religious Muslim country.
No officials could be reached to comment on Sibat's case or offer information on how many death sentences have been issued in witchcraft-related cases. Government offices in the kingdom are closed for the Muslim al-Adha Feast.
Click here to read full article