Poet sentenced to death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia

The BC Humanist Association today wrote to Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia calling for him to join over 60 human rights and free speech organizations who are calling for Saudi authorities to release poet Ashraf Fayadh. Fayadh was sentenced to death for apostasy in a widely discredited trial.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist Association said:

Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses continue to appall the civilized world. It is a state which will freely torture and execute teenagers, freethinkers, humanists, and political opponents of all shades. Its oppressive and inhumane laws condemn and criminalize humanism, skepticism, and the free and honest expression of ideas.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia continues to insist that it complies with the human rights treaties it is signed up to by virtue of its adherence to a strict Islamic orthodoxy. We join with all those who fundamentally reject that argument and plead with the authorities to recognise instead the fundamental rights to which all members of the human family are entitled, regardless of where in the world they happen to be born or reside. The charges against Fayadh must be dropped.

Jennifer Clement, President, PEN International:

Ashraf Fayadh is facing execution simply for exercising freedom of expression and freedom of belief in his poetry. Saudi authorities must overturn this outrageous ruling and release Fayadh and all those held in violation of these fundamental, basic rights. 

The open letter organized by PEN International can be read here.

Read more from PEN InternationalBritish Humanist Association and International Humanist & Ethical Union.

Dear Ambassador Dennis Horak

Following a widely-decried trial, poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death for apostasy by the authorities in Saudi Arabia. Will you and the Government of Canada join the dozens of human rights and free speech organizations who have signed the attached open letter calling for the Saudi Arabian government to release Fayadh and others detained for exercising their right to free expression?

This is the same government that sentenced Raif Badawi to 1000 lashes for "insulting Islam". Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and has continued to lobby for her husband's freedom. We support her campaign.

Free expression and the freedom to criticize religious ideas is under threat around the world. Canada should be a leader once again in standing up for freedom of expression, belief and conscience.

Yours sincerely

Ian Bushfield
Executive Director
BC Humanist Association

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs

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