A Saudi Arabian man who renounced Islam and made disparaging remarks about the prophet Muhammad has been sentenced to death.
Authorities became aware of Ahmad Al-Shamri in 2014 after he uploaded a series of videos reflecting his views on social media. He was subsequently arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy, faced trial and was sentenced to death in February 2015.
Al-Shamri is reportedly in his early 20s and comes from the city of Hafar Al-Batin, located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.
The defendant initially pleaded insanity, saying that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he made the comments, Hala Dosari, an advisory board member of Human Rights Watch (HRW) told the Washington Post.
She added that “his trial focused heavily on Quranic law and little on any mitigating mental illness. As a result, Al-Shamri has been sentenced to death for being an atheist.”
After a lengthy appeals process, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court ruled against Al-Shamri on Tuesday (25 April).
According to Amnesty International, the Gulf oil giant carried out at least 154 executions in 2016. The country has been habitually criticised by human rights groups over its human rights record, but it is still a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council. Its term expires in 2019.
Leaving Islam is punishable by death in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
“The conservative religious folks have full control of the justice system,” said Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at HRW.
“Judges come from religious seminaries in Saudi Arabia. They see themselves as preservers of Saudi Arabia’s character as an Islamic state,” he added. “And they come down hard on people who step out of line.”
Saudi Arabia was ranked third by Amnesty International for recorded executions in 2016 behind China (which was in the thousands) and Iran (567+). The true figures are thought to be significantly higher as the figures only cover the judicial use of the death penalty.
Those sentenced to death are killed by beheading or shooting.
Social media users were divided over Al-Shamri’s death sentence, with some saying such an extreme course of action is unjustified. Others, however, appeared to celebrate the verdict and even went as far as saying they wished “there could be live streaming” when the execution is carried out.
Iran MP In Fiery Speech Announces $3m Reward For ‘Whoever Kills Trump’
An Iranian MP has announced a $3million reward for anyone who kills US President Donald Trump, as revenge for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani early this month by a US drone strike.
Ahmad Hamzeh, parliamentary speaker from central Kerman province, where Soleimani hails from, told lawmakers on Tuesday:
“We will pay a three million dollar award in cash to whoever kills Trump.”
Kerman is the home province of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Quds leader who was killed in a drone strike by Trump, and whose death the regime has sworn to avenge.
“Will your embassies in the region be safe? If your embassies are plotting to kill our innocent people, are we allowed to destroy them?,” he said.
Also speaking about US claims that they killed Soleimani as a preventative measure, the politician said.
“Are your military bases and centers in the region for benevolence or to harm nations? Are we allowed to destroy all your bases in a preventive attack?”
Speaking about the 2015 nuclear deal, abandoned by the Trump administration, he said: “If we had nuclear weapons today, we would have been immune from the threat.”
“Now that Europe has abandoned its commitments, I suggest moving out of the [Non-Proliferation Treaty] as soon as possible and launching nuclear fission blasts.
“Let us announce to the world that we have joined the Nuclear Power Club.”
New ISIS Leader Unmasked Months After Baghdadi Died In A US Military Raid In Syria
The new leader of the Islamic State has been confirmed as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi.
He reportedly took over from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after the terrorist leader killed himself in October. The extremist cleric blew himself up by detonating a suicide belt after running into a dead-end and dragging two of his children with him to their deaths.
Al-Salbi, was made leader just hours after al-Baghdadi died, according to officials from two intelligence services.
The Mosul-born leader is one of the group’s founding members who brought in brutal Sharia Law in Iraq and Syria. He is considered to be one of the most influential ideologues among the now depleted ranks of ISIS.
Al-Salbi, who is also known by the nom de guerre Haji Abdullah, and in some circles as Abdullah Qardash, was born into an Iraqi Turkmen family in the town of Tal Afar.
As a chief legislator, al-Salbi, who is one of the few non-Arabs among the leadership thay ordered homosexuals be thrown off roofs and women accused of adultery be stoned.
Before Baghdadi’s death, the US state department put a $5m bounty on Salbi’s head and on two other senior members of the group.
Trump Urges Senate To Reject Impeachment Charges Against Him
US President Donald Trump on Monday rejected the House of Representatives’ impeachment charges, describing the allegations that he had abused his power and obstructed Congress as an insult to the US Constitution that must be rejected.
“The Senate should speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president,” an executive summary of the Republican president’s pre-trial brief said in Trump’s first comprehensive defense before the start of his Senate trial.
Trump will be the fourth American president out of the 45 Presidents to face the possibility of being impeached.
Trump is being charged with abusing the powers of his office by asking Ukraine to investigate a Democratic political rival, Joe Biden, and obstructing a congressional inquiry into his conduct.
The executive summary rejected the obstruction of Congress charge as frivolous and dangerous, saying the president exercised his legal rights by resisting congressional demands for information.
They also noted that the House of Democrats are guilty of conducting a rigged process and said they succeeded in proving that Trump had done nothing wrong.
While the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove Trump from office, it is important for the Republican president to diminish the Democratic accusations as a partisan witch-hunt.
According to Trump’s legal team, the President was well within his constitutional authority to press Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in 2019 to investigate Biden and his son Hunter as part of what Trump says was an anti-corruption drive.