Monday, March 22, 2010

Saudi Arabia: Shithole

The former host of a Lebanese talk show has been on Saudi Arabia's death row for two years now after being arrested and convicted of sorcery while on pilgrimage. On his Beirut-based show, Ali Hussain Sibat gave callers advice based on what he saw in their futures. Which seems pretty tame for a sorcery conviction. Fortune telling may be occult-oriented, but when I think "sorcery" I think dragon-shaped staffs and eldritch blasts and high intelligence modifiers. Also, lots and lots of dice. But seeing as how no one on earth actually possesses such powers, it seems weird that sorcery would even be a crime. How do you convict someone of practicing an art form that doesn't even exist? Well, this is Saudi Arabia we're talking about, where an unaccountable religious police force has free reign to do all sorts of horrible things, including killing foreign citizens for crimes against the imagination. Where's the outside pressure on the Saudi government to release this man? Amnesty International is involved, but that goes without saying. Don't expect much outcry from many official government channels, since Saudi Arabia is the west's BFF in the Middle East. Inexplicably. In defense of the conviction, the Saudi government says they hope killing Sibat will act as a deterrent against other people sorcering, but it's more likely this would act as a deterrent against anyone ever again visiting Saudi Arabia. More details here.

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