Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sibat's life may be spared...

This is an update on the sad, tragic, insane case of Lebanese TV host, Ali Hussain Sibat, and his death sentence on "sorcery charges" in Saudi Arabia (the mode of execution is beheading). There are indications that his life may now be spared - thanks to intense international pressure. As a scientist, I'm usually annoyed by psychics, astrologers, etc. But a death sentence for practicing pseudoscience?? This is crazy. He has already spent two years in jail and the last few weeks under the constant threat of beheading. It is time for Saudi authorities to let him go. But as a popular TV host and a Lebanese citizen, Sibat may have been the lucky to attract international attention to his plight. How many others have been, and will be, executed in Saudi Arabia for frivolous charges, such as sorcery?

Also check out earlier posts on the topic:

Also here are some bits from an article in today's NYT that further highlights the plight and agony of him and his family:

For more than two years, Ali Hussain Sibat of Lebanon has been held in a prison in Saudi Arabia, convicted of sorcery and sentenced to death. His head is to be chopped off by an executioner wielding a long, curved sword.

His crime: manipulating spirits, predicting the future, concocting potions and conjuring spells on a call-in television show called “The Hidden” on a Lebanese channel, Scheherazade. It was, in effect, a Middle Eastern psychic hot line.

...

Several times in recent months, Mr. Sibat’s lawyer, his wife and his four children were told he would, any day, be escorted to a public square for his beheading. And several times, the execution was postponed after an outcry from international human rights groups and the Lebanese government.

...

“It’s been two years of this mental anguish,” said his wife, Samira Rahmoun, during a telephone interview from their home in the Baalbek area of Lebanon. “Two years of torture. They are killing an innocent man, and they are slowly killing a whole family.”

There has been little public outcry in Saudi Arabia over the case, which is considered rather ordinary, according to political experts in the capital, Riyadh. But the international attention and criticism has cast a harsh light on the ultra-religious side of Saudi Arabia as the kingdom is working to improve its reputation, especially in the West.

Read the full article here.

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