FFRF outraged by heinous human rights violation

1SaudiArabiaThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is horrified by the chilling report that a young Saudi man has been sentenced to death for atheistic social media posts that “insulted” the prophet Muhammad.

Ahmad Al-Shamri came to the  attention of Saudi Arabian authorities’ in 2014 after he allegedly uploaded material to social media that trivialized Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. He was arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy and held in prison before being convicted by a local court and, shockingly, sentenced to death in February 2015.

Al-Shamri, who is in his 20s, initially pleaded insanity for his posts, saying that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he made the comments. His trial focused on Islamic law and he was sentenced to death for the displays of irreverence. Typically, these monstrous executions are carried out by shooting or beheading the victim. His case was brought before the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court for appeal, which ruled against Al-Shamri on April 25.

In 2014, a slew of royal decrees were made by the late Saudi king that re-defined atheists as terrorists. Leaving Islam, or “apostasy”, is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia where religious extremists have total control of the kingdom’s judicial system. It is the judges’ duty to preserve the Islamic state, resulting in horrendous executions like the one prescribed to Al-Shamri. When a citizen steps out of line, judges crack down with nefarious punishments to protect their vision of God.

Al-Shamri’s sentence comes around the same time as Stephen Fry’s blasphemy investigation. The British actor, comedian and author made critical comments about God during an interview on Ireland’s National Television in 2015. He was recently under police investigation for his irreverence. While the investigation has been dropped, it is part of a deeply disturbing trend in increasingly prominent and barbaric blasphemy prosecutions. The latest of these has been the imprisonment of an Indonesian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after he was found guilty of insulting the Koran. 

Blasphemy laws and the chilling fates for those found guilty of the crime exist not only to punish the blasphemer, but to silence future criticisms of religion. The laws freeze speech and expression of ideas, and enchain the ability of citizens to think freely to encourage self-censorship.

“Blasphemy laws shackle an entire people under the mental slavery of one religion,” writes FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel in a recent blog. “They have no place in a modern, enlightened state, even if they are not typically enforced. They need to be abolished. Their very existence is an insult to human dignity and intelligence.”

FFRF urges the Saudi Arabian Embassy and the U.S. State Department to take immediate action and contact Saudi Arabian authorities to overturn the inhuman ruling that will execute Al-Shamri for being an atheist.

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