Saudi Arabia has reportedly sentenced an atheist to death after he was convicted of both “atheism and blasphemy” for uploading at least one video to social media that was critical of Muhammad, Islam’s primary prophet. A man has been sentenced to death on charges of apostasy after losing two appeals, according to reports. Several local media outlets identified the man as Ahmad Al Shamri, in his 20s and from the town of Hafar al-Batin, who in 2014 allegedly uploaded videos to social media in which he renounced Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. He was sentenced to death in February 2015.
Shamri’s defence entered an insanity plea, adding that his client was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of making the videos. A Supreme Court ruled against him earlier this week, after he reportedly lost an Appeals Court case.
Under Saudi Arabia’s strict religious laws, leaving Islam can be punishable by harsh prison sentences and corporeal punishment – and a 2014 string of royal decrees under the late King Abdullah re-defined atheists as terrorists, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
Last year, a citizen was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing atheistic sentiment in hundreds of social media posts.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been consistently criticised by international human rights watchdogs. Last week the Kingdom came under further scrutiny after it emerged that the country had been elected to the UN’s women’s rights commission.
Under Saudi Arabia’s system of ‘guardianship’, women’s rights and freedom of movement are heavily restricted. Women are not allowed to drive, and only voted for the first time in 2015.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have used a viral party video to identify and arrest partygoers in the country