New Saudi Arabian law defines atheists as 'terrorists'
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/2/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
According to a report from Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists. King Abdullah has issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalizes "participating in hostilities outside the kingdom" with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.
Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could "harm public order."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could "harm public order." He has since issued a string of royal decrees and a new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism in general.
The new laws are in reaction to the growing number of Saudis traveling to take part in the civil war in Syria. Those who have returned have curried ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
Regulations were issued by the Saudi interior ministry last month identifying a broad list of groups which the government considers to be terrorist organizations, which include Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based."
"Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism" Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, says.
"These regulations dash any hope that King Abdullah intends to open a space for peaceful dissent or independent groups," Stork said.
Human Rights Watch said the new regulations were also a setback to campaigns for the protection and release of a number of prominent human rights activists currently jailed in Saudi Arabia. Both Waleed Abu al-Khair and Mikhlif al-Shammari recently lost appeals and will soon begin three-month and five-year respective sentences for criticizing Saudi authorities.
The organization said the new "terrorism" provisions contain language that prosecutors and judges are already using to prosecute and convict independent activists and peaceful dissenters.
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