March 19th, 2010
07:47 AM ET

Group wants Saudia Arabia to stop execution over sorcery

Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stop the execution of a Lebanese man sentenced to death for "sorcery."

In a statement released Thursday, the international rights group condemned the verdict and demanded the immediate release of Ali Hussain Sibat, former host of a popular call-in show that aired on Beirut based satellite TV channel "Sheherazade."

According to his lawyer, Sibat, who is 48 and has five children, would predict the future on his show and give out advice to his audience.

The attorney, May El Khansa, who is in Lebanon, tells CNN her client was arrested by Saudi Arabia's religious police (known as the Mutawa'een) and charged with sorcery while visiting the country in May 2008.  Sibat was in Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic religious pilgrimage known as Umra.

Sibat was then put on trial. In November 2009, a court in the Saudi city of Medina found Sibat guilty and sentenced him to death.

According to El Khansa, Sibat appealed the verdict. The case was taken up by the Court of Appeal in the Saudi city of Mecca on the grounds that the initial verdict was "premature."

El Khansa tells CNN that the Mecca appeals court then sent the case back to the original court for reconsideration, stipulating that all charges made against Sibat needed to be verified and that he should be given a chance to repent.

On March 10, judges in Medina upheld their initial verdict, meaning Sibat is once again sentenced to be executed.

"The Medina court refused the sentence of the appeals court," said El Khansa, adding her client will appeal the verdict once more.

The case has been covered extensively by local media.  According to Arab News, an English language Saudi daily newspaper, after the most recent verdict was issued, the judges in Medina issued a statement expressing that Sibat was deserving of the punishment of death and should be executed for having continually practiced black magic on his show, adding that this sentence would deter others from practicing sorcery.  Arab News reports that the case will now return to the appeals court in Mecca.

CNN has not been able to reach Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Justice for comment.

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soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Dave gosh you are right Europeans countries like Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, etc. that actually have religious political parties are ALL screwed up.

    While we here in America with the establishment clause are so much better than they are. They are all extremist and wrong they should be shunned. American thinking is the only thinking the world should have, right Dave?

    March 19, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Muslim

    "Backward societies allowing religion to make laws."

    Here in America and elsewhere in the secular world it is humans who make laws. Humans are thought of as gods with all the power and wisdom needed to know good from evil.

    Secularism is a cult where the human self worships and engratiates, a revival of Greek civilization which thought of the human being as divine.

    March 19, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. Harald

    I'm almost speechless. Sentencing somebody to death for telling the future sounds medieval to me.
    King Abdulla is a educated and civilized man. How can he permit such a ridiculous sentencing ?!?!?!
    No wonder that western societies have an increasingly negative view of Islam.

    March 19, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. man on the moon

    what gets me is we are best friends with the suadi royals bc they let our oilmen in to plunder thier resources for a fee of course but we then label non cooperators such as Ahmadenajad and Hugo Chavez terrorists bc they socialize thier countries natural resourcecs so they may benefit all citizens instead of only capitalist multi national business moguls. In case you havent noticed in Greece, Iceland, Spain and Portugal capitalism has hit a big speed bump.

    March 19, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. David Riker

    This is a foreshadowing of what would happen in America if Sarah Palin and her witch doctor friend from Kenya ever got into power. Or for that matter, The Republican Party.

    March 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zakariya Ali Sher

    Wow, there is alot of racism and bigotry going around here. First of all, Ali Husayn Sibat is both Muslim (though considering his name and country of origin he is probably Shi'a) and Arab (hes Lebanese). He was arrested while traveling to make the Hajj.

    Anyway, as for the Saudis... yeah. The Saudis are ignorant and backwards. Don't judge every Arab or Muslim country by their example. Mr. Sibat was broadcasting his show out of Lebanon with no problems. No, the problem lies in the Saudi funded Wahhabis, who simply spread hatred and ignorance. The TRUE Islam has nothing to do with the Wahhabis. In fact, the Wahhabis have (amongst other things) demolished the Prophet Muhammad's house and grave, desecrated the grave of his daughter Fatima al-Zahra, built a highway over the battlefield of Uhud, destroyed several of the oldest Mosques in the country (and thus the world), and are currently contemplating filling in the cave where Muhammad had his visions. Moreover, Saudi textbooks openly denounce us Shi'a as "heretics" and even "non-Muslims."

    Go to ANY OTHER Muslim country.... Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Senegal, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania... You don't have people being executed for "sorcery." You don't have oppression. No, that is purely a Saudi thing. But you've only got yourself to blame. The Saudis were never anything more than a tribe of desert bandits. The US supported the Saudis in overthrowing theHashemite kings, the US supported the Wahhabis and their fundamentalist vision, the US continues to give money and support to the royal family. So much for democracy and freedom. Just as long as joe smoe in Nebraska can get cheaper fuel for his tractor.

    Oh, and by the way, for the previous posters, the Saudi government has made Islam (read: Wahhabi Islam) the official religion. Officially everyone has to follow it (and this includes not only many Shi'a and Sunni, but also anyone else; even the large numbers of Asian laborers living in the country). And yes, fundies have influence in the US too. You DO have nut jobs like Ric Warren, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the like who do crazy things and believe Harry Potter is evil. So yeah... Its not an Arab or a Muslim thing at all.

    March 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sarah

    Zakariya Ali Sher – I agree fundamentalism (extremism) is a scary kind of crazy, no matter what the cause. It's especially scary in this case that the cause is government sanctioned. It's sickening.

    March 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    Zakariya Ali Sher calls the Saudis "never anything more than a tribe of desert bandits". But Mohammad himself was a desert bandit, making his living raiding caravans and later pillaging cities. The Hadith even has a chapter on how the loot is to be divided. Does that not then mean that the Saudis are practicing the purest form of Islam?

    March 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    Religion, in any form, has far outlived its usefulness to mankind. In order for us to proceed, flourish, and continue our evolutionary path, we should consider abandoning religion and all its trappings.

    March 20, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lawrence

    I know one thing, it doesn't pay to be of a religious sect Chriustian, Islamic, and damned sure not a catholic now days. I think I'll stick to my ole athiest thing. At least there isn't anyone who wants to cut off my ears or castrate me or . . .

    March 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lawrence

    LIke Dave said, religion in any form, christian, jewish, islam or whatever has outlived it's usefullness. No one can trust a religious thing anymore. Kids are being moliested, the relidious leaders are scamming people . . . I believe in me, I can trust me. I can believe in my cat Moses, I can trust what he will do at any one time.

    March 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
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