In an alarming precedent set by Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s paramount enforcers of capital punishment, a resident of Mecca and retired educator, Mohammed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, has been condemned to death. His crime? Expressing dissenting opinions on social media platforms.
(Article cross-posted from Reclaim The Net)
This distressing development underlines the kingdom’s complete intolerance of free speech and underscores escalating attempts to suppress dissent, gaining international criticism.
Predominantly employed for prosecuting terrorism-related cases, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court indicted al-Ghamdi with a slew of profound charges, among which were “betraying his religion,” “impugning the kingdom and the crown prince,” “conspiring against the government,” and “disturbing the society’s security.” These grave offenses all trace back to his online activity, which entailed sharing opinions critical of the government.
What makes this case convoluted is that al-Ghamdi’s brother, Saeed bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, who resides in the UK, is renowned for his critical stance towards the Saudi regime. The latter believes this sentence against his brother is a mere ploy to get to him.
This tactic of targeting family members as a means to exert pressure on critics abroad is not uncommon, according to activists and those who have faced similar persecutions in the past.
Not surprisingly, this verdict has resonated internationally, inducing reproach from global human rights groups.
As the death penalty handed to al-Ghamdi underlines, the right to express dissent is notably endangered in the kingdom. The message being transmitted is ominous and unequivocal: any voice, however quiet or loud, daring to dissent, is at risk. Even a mere tweet could warrant a fatal outcome, heralding a profoundly disquieting future for free speech in Saudi Arabia.