Ashraf Fayadh, Palestinian refugee poet and artist living in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death by a Saudi court, on charges of apostasy or abandoning his faith in Islam. The charges appear to be based on his poetry and writing, and may also be a form of retaliation for posting an online video showing Saudi religious police lashing a man in public.
Fayadh is a Palestinian refugee who was born in Saudi Arabia and has become a leading member of the young Saudi art scene. He was arrested in January 2014, his identity documents confiscated, and held for a lengthy period without charge. He was then sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes; after he appealed, he was retried last month and sentenced to death. He did not have legal representation.
“According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair,” reported the Guardian. Fayadh said his poetry book, Instructions Within, is “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”
One hundred Arab intellectuals have called for Fayadh’s release. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins the call for the immediate freedom of Ashraf Fayadh. His imprisonment, persecution and death sentence by the Saudi regime reflects the deeply reactionary and far-right role played by the Saudi regime in the region – alongside its close imperial partners in the United States, Canada and Europe – that threatens Palestinian and Arab culture, life, and movements and works to block and suppress any struggle for liberation.
1. Call the Saudi Embassy in your area and demand freedom for Ashraf Fayadh. In the United States, call 202-342-3800. In Canada, call 613-237-4100. Find the embassy in your country here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/saudi-arabia
2. Protest at the Saudi Embassy in your area for freedom for Ashraf Fayadh. Print signs and materials, and gather outside the Saudi embassy with Palestine rights activists, artists and others to demand his freedom. See the list of Saudi embassies here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/saudi-arabia
3. Contact your government officials . The Saudi regime is a close partner of the United States, Canadian and various European governments. Demand that your government pressure the Saudi regime to release Fayadh. In Canada, Call the office of the Foreign Minister, Stéphane Dion, at 613-996-5789 and demand Canada pressure Saudi Arabia to release Fayadh, or email: email@example.com. In the US, call the White House (202-456-1111) and the US State Department (202-647-9572); demand the US pressure Saudi Arabia to release Fayadh. In the EU, contact your MEP – you can find your MEP here.
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