Death sentence for renouncing Islam

by Karen L. Willoughby, |
The Pew Research Center shows a map of countries which enforce Islamic apostasy laws.

HAFR AL-BATIN, Saudi Arabia (Christian Examiner) – A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to death for renouncing Islam after the man posted a video to the Internet showing him tearing up the Koran, and cursing Allah.

The video does not explain the reason for the man's apparent angry rejection of his religion and neither do news reports about his conviction.

He also cursed Islam's Prophet Mohammed and his daughter Fatimah, an official told the Saudi Gazette, and "the death sentence was issued after his apostasy [renouncing his faith] was proved."

The death penalty is the standard penalty for apostasy in the Muslim world, though it is rarely carried out, even in Saudi Arabia, which still carries out regular executions, typically by beheading, wrote Richard Spencer, Middle East editor for The Telegraph, a British periodical.

According to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center, because of Islamic law 18 Middle East and North Africa nations criminalize apostasy and 11 percent of nations worldwide.

The strict Wahhabi Sunni sect of Islam that influences these governments gives clergy control over the justice system and interprets Sharia Islamic law as demanding the death penalty for apostasy, but jail terms or whippings for blasphemy.

Last year a court in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sentenced Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for publishing criticism of the kingdom's ruling religious and political elite and calling for reforms in Islam.

The convicted man from Hafr al-Batin will be given a chance to appeal his conviction. He can avoid the death penalty by repenting of his abandonment of the Islamic faith.

Human rights activists are protesting the death penalty sentence that was handed down.