Public Floggings, Hangings, and Beheadings: Daily Life in Saudi Arabia

Bahraini women pass by riot police watching for protesters, to prevent a third day gathering of demonstrators against Saudi Arabia's execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Daih, Bahrain, a largely Shiite suburb of the capital, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Graffiti on the wall is of people killed in …
AP Photo/Hasan Jamali

Saudi Arabia’s notoriously high execution rate has created a culture of fear in the Mideast nation, where public beheadings and hanging bodies for days in the hot sun are common sights.

One image displays five headless bodies strung between two canes. Authorities beheaded the five men, who allegedly belonged to a gang of robbers.

Another segment caught police beheading a woman in Mecca after a court convicted her of sexually abusing and murdering her stepdaughter. The police dragged through the streets as she screamed, “I did not kill! I did not kill!”

The filmmakers show viewers the Chop Chop square in Riyadh “where many of the killings take place.” It includes an image “on the red-stained drainage system used to wash away the blood.”

The content has made British outlets question why the United Kingdom remains cozy with the murderous kingdom. From The Daily Mail:

Yet Saudi Arabia remains one of Britain’s closest allies, not just in the Middle East but worldwide, as it has for nearly a century. We sell them arms. They sell us oil. The royal families of each country are close. Prince Charles has made numerous trips to the kingdom and, when King Abdullah died last year, flags at Westminster flew at half-mast in a highly unusual tribute to a foreign ruler.

Our leaders conveniently overlook the truth about the desert kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has executed almost half the number of people from 2015 when authorities beheaded its 70th prisoner in early March.

“The death penalty is always cruel and unnecessary, but the Saudi justice system lacks evens the basics of a fair trial system and it’s truly frightening that its courts are sentencing so many people to death,” Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allan Hogarth told The Independent, adding:

With death sentences imposed after deeply unfair – and sometimes secret – proceedings, with defendants often denied a lawyer, and with courts regularly convicting people on the basis of “confessions” extracted under torture, Saudi Arabia is making a mockery of justice and dozens of people are paying with their lives.

It’s time that “strategic allies” like the UK started speaking out about this shocking state of affairs. For too long Downing Street has bent over backwards to avoid “offending” the Saudi royals. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is utterly appalling and the UK government should say so.

The seventy people include 47 killed on January 2, after Saudi courts convicted them on terrorism charges, among these prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Shiites in Iran threw firebombs at the Saudi consulate and tore down its flag. Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei even tweeted a tribute to al-Nimr while Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said Saudi Arabia will pay a “high price” for the execution.


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