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Woman beheaded in Saudi Arabia for 'sorcery'

Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland has called the killing an “appalling and sickening act”.

File photo of women in Saudi Arabia
File photo of women in Saudi Arabia
Image: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

A WOMAN HAS been beheaded in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of “witchcraft and sorcery,” the kingdom’s Interior Ministry has said.

Amnesty International has said the execution is deeply shocking and highlights the urgent need for a halt to executions in Saudi Arabia.

The Interior Ministry said that the woman, Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser, was beheaded in the northern province of al-Jawf on Monday.

The Ministry did not explain the full charges against the woman.

“This is an absolutely appalling and sickening act. The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not even defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia,” said Colm O’Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland.

“While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion”.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by the House of Saud, an absolute monarchy under King Abdullah and at least 7,000 princes.

This is the second time in four months that Saudi Arabia has executed someone on sorcery charges.

The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has almost tripled this year, according to Amnesty. At least 79 people – five of them women – have been killed this year – compared to at least 27 in 2010.

The kingdom, which has been widely criticised for human rights abuses, applies the death penalty to a range of offences including murder, rape, blasphemy, sorcery, adultery and drug-related offences.

Last week an Australian man was sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in a Saudi Arabian jail after being convicted of blasphemy.

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