Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist who hails from Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’. The Saudi Arabian authorities charged him for his poetry claiming that the poems questioned religion and spread atheism. On 17 November, 2015, the General Court in Abha, southwest of Saudi Arabia, charged Ashraf guilty of ‘apostasy’ that is renouncing Islam, according to his poetry and sentenced him to death.
Ashraf is 35 years old poet and artist who was initially arrested 0n 6 August, 2013 against a complaint by another fellow citizen for spreading atheism among the people. Though he was released the following day, he was rearrested on 1 January, 2014 for ‘apostasy’ and at the same time for violating country’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law by allegedly taking and storing pictures of women in his phone.
Ashraf was sentenced to four years imprisonment and 800 lashes for violating the Anti-Cyber Crime Law on 14 August, 2014. The General Court though accepted his apology for ‘apostasy’ and considered the punishment satisfactory, the court of appeal recommended Ashraf be sentenced for ‘Apostasy’ and the general court after reconsideration sentenced him to death.
The Amnesty International UK is campaigning for Free Ashraf and they have claimed that the victim has been denied access to a lawyer throughout the whole process.
The Amnesty states “Quite simply, we’re calling for Ashraf to be freed. He has committed no crime, and as such should not be imprisoned, let alone face execution. We’re asking the Saudi Arabian authorities to drop Ashraf’s conviction and all charges against him. We’re also asking for them to stop executing anyone for ‘apostasy’”