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Saudi Arabia poised to behead female activist, after bashing Canada on women’s rights

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Saudi Arabia King Salman
King
Salman of Saudi Arabia, center, with the president of Egypt and
Emir of Kuwait.


AP/
Saudi Press Agency



  • Saudi Arabia is on the cusp of executing a woman for
    political activism for the first time.
  • Israa al-Ghomgham has been sentenced to death and is
    awaiting execution. The most usual method is beheading with a
    sword.
  • Saudi Arabia remains locked in a diplomatic spat with
    Canada which began earlier this month.
  • It has seen the Saudi state and its allies attempt to
    take a moral high ground on a number of issues, including
    women’s rights.
  • Canada does not execute women, or indeed
    anybody.

     

Saudi Arabia, which has in recent weeks called out Canada over
its the way it treats women, is on the cusp of executing a female
political activist for the first time.

The kingdom gave a death sentence to Israa al-Ghomgham, a
prominent Saudi campaigner, at a hearing some time in August, two
human rights groups have told Business Insider.

She was convicted at a recent hearing, representatives for
Amnesty International and the European Saudi Organisation for
Human Rights said.

The sentence was delivered around the same time as Saudi Arabia
and its media waged a public dispute over Canada, prompted by
criticism of how Saudi prisoners are treated, which ended in

Saudi spokespeople attempting to paint the Canadians as
oppressors of women
.

For al-Ghomgham, the most likely course of action is that
she will be executed with a sword, Saudi Arabia’s preferred
method for administering the death penalty. Saudi Arabia has
executed women before, but not for political activism.

She does not have an exact date for her execution, which still
requires authorisation by King Salman, the Saudi ruler. It is
unlikely to come before a sentencing review on October 28th. She
has been detained since December 2015.

Some sources on social media reported on Tuesday that she had
already been killed, but no evidence of this has yet been made
public.

Laurie Hanna, an Amnesty reporter said
on Tuesday
: “As far as we are aware Israa al-Ghomgham has not
been executed yet.”

Hanna said that al-Ghomgham is still awaiting her death
sentence, from the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, the
Saudi capital. 

Al-Ghomgham’s activism centers on demands for an end to
discrimination against Shia Muslims and a release of political
prisoners, according to
The Middle East Eye
, an outlet which Saudi Arabia accuses of
having links to its regional rival Qatar.

In the below image al-Ghomgham (top left, as a child) is part of
a group of
five people sentenced to death
in August, including her
husband Moussa al-Hashem (middle bottom). 

Al-Ghomgham was arrested during a house raid and had
been a prominent protester in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia
since 2011,
The Middle East Eye reported
.

The pending execution became public a fortnight
after Saudi
state media slammed
 Canada’s women’s rights record, in
response to this tweet from the Canadian foreign ministry,
demanding the release of Canadians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia:


(You can read a full timeline of the dispute here.)

The Saudi press pointed out the disappearance of 1,000 indigenous
women over the past hundred years in Canada,
in an unusual media barrage
that seemed designed to undermine
Canada’s moral standing.

Saudi Arabia also instructed all its citizens studying an
Canadian universities to leave, cancelled flights between the two
countries, and suspended new trade and investment.

Last year nearly 150 people were put to death in Saudi
Arabia, Amnesty International said. Canada has no death penalty,
and hasn’t executed anybody since 1976.

Business Insider has contacted Saudi Arabia’s information
ministry for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

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