We recently discussed the sentencing of a political dissident in Saudi Arabia to being crucified and beheaded under the Kingdom’s medieval Sharia-based legal system. Now, as if to reaffirm the Kingdom’s opposition to basic human rights and freedoms, the Kingdom has reportedly sentenced a professor and activist to to 10 years in prison and barred him from traveling abroad for another decade. Abdel-Karim al-Khadar, a professor of Islamic studies from conservative Qassim Province, has been under arrest for over two years (since April 2013) for criticizing religious extremism and fighting for women’s rights. That is enough to jail you in the Kingdom, a country that remains one of our closest allies.
Khadar was sentenced by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court on charges including disobeying the ruler, founding a human rights organization and supporting protests.
The inclusion of the crime of “founding a human rights organization” in Saudi Arabia is particularly telling.
As we denounce Islamic extremism around the world, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia continues to apply cruel Sharia sentences, deny basic liberty to women, bar religious freedom to non-Muslims, and brutally put down dissident. Christians cannot even build a church in the country or freely engage in religious ceremonies despite the constant demands of Saudi Arabia to guarantee the free exercise of Islam in other countries.