The Saudi government beheaded 52 men and one woman last year for crimes including murder, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking. But Saudis say that while Islam condones the punishment in one context, it condemns militants who decapitated hostages here and in Iraq.
Islam permits the death penalty for certain crimes, but few mainstream Muslim scholars and observers believe beheadings are sanctioned by Sharia, or Islamic law.
The Saudi government says the punishment is sanctioned by Islamic tradition. State-ordered beheadings are performed in courtyards outside crowded mosques in major cities after weekly Friday prayer services.
A condemned convict is brought into the courtyard, hands tied, and forced to bow before an executioner, who swings a huge sword amid cries from onlookers of "Allahu Akbar!" Arabic for "God is great."
On Friday, outside the main mosque in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, a policeman standing in the scorching summer heat declared to worshippers: "There are no qisas today." Qisas is the Arabic word for Islamic-law punishments -- which in the kingdom could mean beheadings or the amputation of limbs.
But Saudi clerics insist beheading is only allowed in the case of criminal convictions -- not in the killing of innocents.
"No religion condones these acts," Abdul Muhsen al Obaiqan, a senior Islamic cleric in Riyadh, said.
"They are against Islam and they tarnish the image of Muslims. No Muslim should show any sympathy for them," he said.
Last week, al-Qaeda-linked militants in Saudi Arabia decapitated American engineer Paul Johnson after warning they would kill him if the Saudi government did not release jailed comrades.
In Iraq this week, militants beheaded Kim Sun-il, a South Korean translator for a US military supplier, and dumped his body between Baghdad and Fallujah. US businessman Nicholas Berg met a similar fate last month in Iraq. Both killings are blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked movement of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The beheadings were videotaped, photographed and posted on the Internet. On Islamic Internet forums, mostly used by radicals, beheading has been a popular topic in recent weeks, with many participants describing it as the "easiest" way to kill an American or a Saudi from the ruling family.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS: Seoul voiced ‘strong regret’ as Kim’s sister threatened to eradicate South Korean authorities for sending the virus across the border North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffered from a “high fever” during a recent COVID-19 outbreak, his sister Kim Yo-jong said yesterday, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus. Kim Yo-jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of
Newly married and with his first child on the way, auto worker Wang (王) wanted to move into the apartment he bought in Wuhan three years ago, but those hopes were dashed by China’s ballooning property crisis. Saddled with nearly US$300,000 in debt and with his unit nowhere near completion, the 34-year-old decided he had enough and stopped making mortgage payments. He is among numerous home buyers across dozens of cities in China who have boycotted payments over fears that their properties will not be completed by cash-strapped, debt-laden developers. “They said construction would resume soon,” Wang said, only giving his surname. “But
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel