Saudi court overturns death sentence for Ashraf Fayadh; new sentence is 8 years and 800 lashes

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, 800 lashes, and an official public repentance through Saudi Arabia state mediaHis sentence calls for the lashings are to be carried out over 16 sessions.

A statement by Fayadh's attorney, Abdulrahman Al-Lahim, in response to the ruling.

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 announcing they would launch an appeal.

The Guardian reports:

Lahem welcomed the overturning of the death sentence but reaffirmed Fayadh’s innocence and announced they would launch an appeal and ask for bail.

Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “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.”

The 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.”

Ashraf Fayadh

Ashraf Fayadh

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

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