Saudi 'Witch' to Be Beheaded

February 19, 2008 02:49 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A woman has been convicted of witchcraft in a Saudi court and sentenced to death under Islamic law. Human Rights Watch has appealed the ruling.

30-Second Summary

Fawza Falih, an illiterate Saudi woman living in the town of Quraiyat near the Jordanian border, is in prison awaiting death by decapitation for practicing “witchcraft.”

According to CNN, male witnesses accused her of committing adultery with “evil spirits,” after which the men were rendered “impotent after being bewitched by her.”

Witchcraft is considered a crime against God under Sharia law, which Saudi Arabia uses as its sole form of jurisprudence.

Falih was arrested in 2005. In April 2006, she was sentenced after what Human Rights Watch calls a flawed trial.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says that the judges assigned to the case “were interested in anything but a quest for the truth. They completely disregarded legal guarantees that would have demonstrated how ill-founded this case was.”

Falih was barred from seeking legal counsel and from sitting in on most of the trial sessions.

Her sentence was then commuted in September 2006 on the grounds that her confession had been forced. However, the commutation was overturned by a lower court that said it wanted “to protect the creed, souls and property of this country.”

On Feb. 14, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Saudi King Abdullah Al Saud pleading Falih’s cause.

That same day, Turkish sociologist Yakin Ertürk, on behalf of the United Nations, asked Saudi Arabia to codify a body of laws guaranteeing women’s rights.

Middle East blog The Black Iris, written by a 24-year-old male Jordanian, offers a sarcastic take on Saudi justice: “It’s actually not as bad as it sounds … They could’ve thrown her in a deep well of water to see if she floats or drowns.”

Headline Link: ‘Saudis to Execute Woman for “Witchcraft”’

Background: ‘UN Tells Saudis to Tackle Violence Against Women’

Historical Context: Sharia law

Opinion & Analysis: Flawed evidence

Reference: Human Rights Watch’s letter


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