The Saudi Crucifixion – Human Rights Violation or Not?

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On Friday, 29 May 2009, the life of Saudi national Ahmed Al-Shamlani Al-Anzi ended when he was beheaded in a public execution in Riyadh.  Shortly after his beheading, his head was then sewed back on to his body and then the body was strung up on a pole for public display.  Why did such an unusual act happen to this Saudi man?

Al-Anzi was a convicted killer who coldly and calculatedly killed an 11 year old boy whom he had kidnapped for “malicious purposes.”  When the young boy’s father came to investigate and retrieve his son, Al-Anzi killed the father as well…by axing him to death.  Al-Anzi also resisted arrest from the police threatening them with a knife.

According to the Ministry of Interior, it was further revealed that Al-Anzi had been previously convicted of other crimes which include possession of pornographic videos and sodomy.  Given the heinous nature of the crimes he had committed, it was decided that Al-Anzi would be publicly executed and then his body would remain on public display via what the Saudis term by ‘crucifixion’ as an example and a deterrent to others warning that the Saudi government takes such violent crimes seriously.  The term crucifixion does not mean “nailed” to a cross such as in the Biblical term, but rather that a body would be strung up and attached to either a pole or a tree in full public view.

This is not an act that the Saudi government decides upon lightly.  Nor is this a procedure that is routinely followed.  However if the act is considered heinous enough then this procedure will be followed.  In speaking with one Saudi on this decision, he advised that this is the second time in his 50 plus years that he was aware of a body being put on display via Saudi Crucifixion.

Now some factions state that this execution and crucifixion is a human rights violation.  I personally do not agree with that perspective.  After all, America also has a death penalty and in some cases, other individuals in addition to prison officials are allowed to witness the death of a prisoner. And how many times have individuals who’ve been deemed as terrorists or high value targets (HVT) will have their graphic photograph published all around the world when they have been killed?   I am also confident that if one sees a body such as Al-Anzi’s it would have a preventive effect on future crimes in Saudi Arabia.

So in closing this post, what are your views?  Do you agree with the actions taken by the government of Saudi Arabia?  Or do you believe that these actions are a violation of human rights?  And when you share your view, to further stimulate discussion and exchanges, please quantify your answer too!


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