Ashraf Fayadh

In Saudi Arabia the number of writers and bloggers facing the whip and the sword—and even crucifixion—is growing. Sound a bit like ISIS? Many think so.
GAZA STRIP — It’s been a bad year for Saudi Arabia’s public image. An unusually large number of death sentences and executions have sparked outrage from rights groups and activists across the world.

The latest controversy comes from the case of Ashraf Fayadh, a 35-year-old Palestinian poet whose death sentence was handed down for charges of apostasy on Nov. 17.

Now, in a strange twist, a Palestinian human rights lawyer in the besieged Gaza Strip will do his best to save Fayadh’s life. But Raji Sourani, Fayadh’s representative and a veteran human rights crusader, isn’t quite sure how to do it. He began an interview with The Daily Beast by admitting it’s his “first time dealing directly with the Saudi Arabian legal system.”

Sourani does know that he won’t have access to Fayadh. “Our only contact is through his sister and mother in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “His other sister is here [in Gaza]. She’s the one who asked for my assistance.”

Sourani says that the charges against the poet are baseless and motivated by a personal dispute with another Saudi over a European soccer match. “He was arrested in 2013, then again in 2014, and that time he was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes.”

The repeated arrests, followed by a new judge being appointed to the case who decided Fayadh was promoting atheism (through a collection of poems that weren’t even published in Saudi Arabia), seems fishy to Sourani.

full article at The Daily Beast