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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Saudis Overturn Death Sentence on Palestinian Poet Ashraf Fayadh - Flogging & Prison Instead

Ashraf Fayadh

Mahmoud Abbas and the PA's UK Representative Manuel Hassassian Keep Silent

Whilst it is welcome that the death sentence on Ashraf Fayadh has been overturned, the sentence of 8 years in prison and 800 lashes is nonetheless a barbaric outrage.  It speaks volumes that the British Government has supplied some $3 billion of weaponry to aid this savage medieval state in its war against the Yemeni people.

We have a government without a shred of shame.  Of course New Labour wasn’t an iota better and it was the war criminal  himself, Tony Blair, who personally intervened to prevent a prosecution of BAA for bribing various Saudi royals to obtain contracts.  It was in the interests of ‘national security’ we were told, since the Saudi royals objected to the evidence about them being a bunch of thieving bastards being made public.

It is noticeable that the President of the so-called ‘Palestinian state’, Mahmoud Abbas, has not uttered a whisper about this case nor called for Ashraf to be freed.  I thought that diplomatic interventions like this were the only justification for pretending that a Palestinian state existed.  Obviously not.
Nor has His Excellency Professor Manuel Hassassian, the ‘Ambassador’ of the fictitious Palestinian state in London had anything to say about Ashraf Fayadh.  I did send a message to him via the web site  of the Palestine mission but for some unknown reason I haven’t received a reply!  I can only assume that the matter of the proposed execution or now flogging and imprisonment of a fellow Palestinian poet is too embarrassing for the quisling Palestinian Authority.

However you can bombard both the Saudis and the representative of the ‘Palestinian state’ with calls for Ashraf to be freed unconditionally.  And to also bombard Cameron and his clone Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to speak up and cut the arms supply to this wretched regime.

Tony Greenstein
self portrait

Ashraf Fayadh
I stand naked every day without any judgment, without anyone needing to blow any last trump, because I have been sent on in advance. I am Hell’s experiment on the planet Earth.The Hell that has been prepared for refugees.            Ashraf Fayadh ~ ‘The Last of the Line of Refugee Descendants

Yesterday, a panel of judges in Saudi Arabia overturned the death sentence of Palestinian artist, curator, and poet Ashraf Fayadh but upheld the verdict of the crime of apostasy and sentenced him to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Fayadh was ordered to disown his writings, repent and apologize on official Saudi Arabia national television. His sentence calls for the lashings to be carried out “50 lashes at a time per session”.
A statement by Fayadh’s attorney, Abdulrahman Al-Lahim, in response to the ruling.

Stressing Fayadh’s innocence, his lawyer, Abdulrahman al-Lahim posted the details of his sentence on Twitter yesterday after presenting the court with an application for Kayadh’s release on bail and announced they would launch an appeal.

The document concludes with the statement (translated from Arabic):

The defense appreciates the department’s going back on its previous sentencing decision, and at the same time we would like to emphasize our conviction of the innocence of the poet Ashraf Fayyad from all the charges presented against him. He is in a legally sound position and stands by his defense that has already been previously heard in the sentencing objection document.

The Guardian cites Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch:

“Instead of beheading Ashraf Fayadh, a Saudi court has ordered a lengthy imprisonment and flogging. No one should face arrest for peacefully expressing opinions, much less corporal punishment and prison. Saudi justice officials must urgently intervene to vacate this unjust sentence.”

And UK author Irvine Welsh said:

“When this twisted barbarism is thought of as a compromise, it’s way past time western governments stopped dealing with this pervert regime.”

Fayadh’s previous November 17, 2015 sentence of execution by beheading was met with international outrage and calls for his requital. A world wide reading of his poems and other writings sponsored by International Literature Festival Berlin (iLb), supported by poets, artists, and intellectuals around the world including several Nobel Prize for Literature laureates, took place in January, and people from all over the world began uploading videos of themselves readings his poems on Youtube.

Fayadh was originally detained by Saudi Arabia’s religious police in August 2013 after he had an argument with another artist who alleged he had cursed Allah and the prophet Muhammad. The religious police claimed his 2008 book of poetry  Instructions Within promoted atheism. Fayadh said his book was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”


Thanks to Zeina Azzam
Thanks to diaspora for Arabic translation

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