Saudi Arabia, which has been calling out Canada on its women's rights record, is poised to behead its first female activist

By On August 21, 2018

Saudi Arabia, which has been calling out Canada on its women's rights record, is poised to behead its first female activist

Saudi Arabia King Salman
King Salman of Saudi Arabia, center, with the president of Egypt and Emir of Kuwait.
AP/Saudi Press Agency

  • Saudi Arabia is on the cusp of executing a woman for political activism for the first time.
  • Israa al-Ghomgham has been sentenced to death and is awaiting execution. The most usual method is beheading with a sword.
  • Saudi Arabia remains locked in a diplomatic spat with Canada which began earlier this month.
  • It has seen the Saudi state and its allies attempt to take a moral high ground on a number of issues, including women's rights.
  • Canada does not exe cute women, or indeed anybody.

Saudi Arabia, which has in recent weeks called out Canada over its the way it treats women, is on the cusp of executing a female political activist for the first time.

The kingdom gave a death sentence to Israa al-Ghomgham, a prominent Saudi campaigner, at a hearing some time in August, two human rights groups have told Business Insider.

She was convicted at a recent hearing, representatives for Amnesty International and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights said.

The sentence was delivered around the same time as Saudi Arabia and its media waged a public dispute over Canada, prompted by criticism of how Saudi prisoners are treated, which ended in Saudi spokespeople attempting to paint the Canadians as oppressors of women.

For al-Ghomgham, the most likely course of action is that she will be executed with a sword, Saudi Arabia's preferred method for administering the death penalty. Saudi Arabia has executed women before, but not for political activism.

She does not have an exact date for her execution, which still requires authorisation by King Salman, the Saudi ruler. It is unlikely to come before a sentencing review on October 28th. She has been detained since December 2015.

Some sources on social media reported on Tuesday that she had already been killed, but no evidence of this has yet been made public.

Laurie Hanna, an Amnesty reporter said on Tuesday: "As far as we are aware Israa al-Ghomgham has not been executed yet."

Hanna said that al-Ghomgham is still awaiting her death sentence, from the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Al-Ghomgham's activism centers on demands for an end to discrimination against Shia Muslims and a release of political prisoners, according to The Middle East Eye, an outlet which Saudi Arabia accuses of having links to its regional rival Qatar.

In the below image al-Ghomgham (top left, as a child) is part of a group of five people sentenced to death in August, including her husband Moussa al-Hashem (middle bottom).

Al-Ghomgham was arrested during a house raid and had been a prominent protester in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia since 2011, The Middle East Eye reported.

The pending execution became public a fortnight after Saudi state media slammed Canada's women's rights record, in response to this tweet from the Canadian foreign ministry, demanding the release of Canadians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia:

(You can read a full timeline of the dispute here.)

The Saudi press pointed out the disappearance of 1,000 indigenous women over the past hundred years in Canada, in an unusual media barrage that seemed designed to undermine Canada's moral standing.

Saudi Arabia also instructed all its cit izens studying an Canadian universities to leave, cancelled flights between the two countries, and suspended new trade and investment.

Last year nearly 150 people were put to death in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said. Canada has no death penalty, and hasn't executed anybody since 1976.

Business Insider has contacted Saudi Arabia's information ministry for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

Source: Google News Saudi Arabia | Netizen 24 Saudi Arabia

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