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.