RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A Palestinian in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to death for apostasy, a rare ruling which can be appealed, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.
The ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom’s use of the death penalty — typically carried out by beheading — has drawn widespread international criticism.
A lower court on Tuesday issued the sentence against Ashraf Fayad, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for the New York-based HRW.
That decision, apparently after an appeal, overturned another lower court’s ruling in 2014 sentencing Fayadh to four years’ prison and 800 lashes.
“I read the court documents,” Coogle said.
The complaint against Fayadh stemmed from a cultural discussion group at a cafe in the Gulf state’s southwestern city of Abha.
“What Ashraf claims is that he had a falling out with other members of the group,” Coogle said.
One man claimed he heard Fayadh say things against God, while a religious scholar accused Fayadh of blasphemy in a volume of poetry he had written a decade previously, Coogle said.
At the first trial, witnesses for Fayadh testified that the man who complained was probably “out to get him”.
Read more: timesofisrael.com