Saudi Arabian government officials faced extreme backlash after a leaked video showed the brutal public beheading of a woman, who proclaimed her innocence as a man chopped off her head. The video led to many comparisons to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), who also behead their victims in public.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki told NBC News the punishments are not similar, since the Islamic State “has no legitimate way to decide to kill people.”
“When we do it in Saudi Arabia, we do it as a decision made by a court,” he explained. “The killing is a decision, I mean it is not based on arbitrary choices, to kill this and not to kill this. When you kill somebody without legitimate basis, without justice system, without court, that is still a crime whether you behead them or kill [them] with a gun.”
Middle East news site Middle East Eye tweeted a picture that shows similarities between Islamic State and Saudi Arabia punishments.
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) January 20, 2015
The Islamic State and Saudi Arabia kill people who commit blasphemy, acts of homosexuality, treason, and murder. Death by stoning is reserved for those who commit adultery. Saudi expert Ali al-Ahmed said their “absolute monarchy rely on the same ideology and system of religious interpretation in their approach to punishment.” The government beheaded a murderer on Sunday, which puts the nation’s total number of executions at 17 for 2015.
In August 2014, Amnesty International reported the Saudi kingdom executed a person “almost every day” during the month. The charity claimed the kingdom carried out 22 executions “between August 4 and August 22, compared to 17 executions between January and July” of 2014. In total, the kingdom executed 87 people in 2014, compared to the 78 in 2013.