MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Saudis Sentence Man to Crucifixion, Criticize Canada's Human Rights Record

Canada called on Saudi Arabia to release a blogger from prison. Here's how Saudi Arabia responded.

|||Faisal Nasser/REUTERS/NewscomFaisal Nasser/REUTERS/NewscomSaudi Arabia and Canada are officially in disagreement over the topic of human rights. As the criticisms between the two countries mounts, a recent crucifixion is overshadowing Saudi Arabia's accusations that between the two, Canada has the worse record on human rights.

Saudi King Salman recently endorsed a court's decision to crucify a Myanmar man accused of theft and murder. The man, Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, was charged with breaking into a woman's home and stabbing her to death. He was additionally accused of stealing weapons, trying to stab another man, and attempting to rape a woman.

Crucifixions in Saudi Arabia, as explained by the Associated Press, involve beheading an individual and placing their body on display. Though the practice of crucifixion is admittedly rare, Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty at a higher rate than most other countries. Amnesty International reported in 2015 that China and Iran were the only two countries that used capital punishment more than Saudi Arabia. Just this past year, the country was criticized for killing 48 people over the span of four months. About half of those executed by the Saudi government were convicted of nonviolent drug charges.

Just before this latest execution was carried out, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of having a poor human rights record. The accusation was part of a larger fight that began when Canada called for the release of Saudi women's rights activists on Twitter. One of the activists named, Samar Badawi, and her brother, Raif Badawi, were arrested in 2012 after Raif blogged criticism of Islam. He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison. Earlier in the year, his wife and children became citizens of Canada, which has since joined other western countries in calling for the Badawi siblings' freedom.

Saudi Arabia responded by ordering Canada's ambassador to leave the country while recalling its own ambassador from Canada. The country has also called on its citizens currently present in Canada to return home, has suspended various operations in Canada, and has placed sanctions on the country.

Saudi Arabia also accused Canada of hypocrisy by bringing up the arrest of Ernst Zündel. Though he was born in Germany, Zündel operated a Nazi publishing house in Canada for several years. He was arrested and held in solitary confinement in a Toronto jail before Canada deported him back to Germany in 2005. In 2007, Zündel was sentenced to five years in prison for Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred under German law.

The disagreement only escalated when a verified, pro-Saudi government Twitter account shared a digitally altered picture of an Air Canada plane flying towards the Toronto skyline with the caption "sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong." The picture seemed to evoke the 9/11 terrorist attacks that targeted New York City and Washington, D.C. The picture was deleted and the Saudi Ministry of Media announced an investigation.

(Note: Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied its involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A U.S. district court judge ruled in March that the families of the victims had a right to sue Saudi Arabia for damages under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.)

Saudi Arabia is currently a member of the United Nations' Human Rights Council.

Photo Credit: Faisal Nasser/REUTERS/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    +1 killing murderers
    -1 killing drug users

    IMPOSSIBLE MORAL CONFLICT

  • Hugh Akston||

    So who kills the murderer that kills the murderer?

  • Kivlor||

    le sigh

  • Mongo||

    A lifetime of watching daytime TV is worse than a somewhat quick death.

  • Zeb||

    I think that's up to the individual to decide.

    I don't know how serious you are being, but I find the argument that the death penalty is OK because prison suck to be absolutely awful. You don't get to decide what is preferable for other people.

    Either it's just to kill people for certain crimes or it isn't. That's the question. I don't think killing murderers is inherently unjust, but I don't trust any government to do it in a just and consistent way.

  • Fancylad||

    Oh come on...

  • Nardz||

    Funny.
    Saudi Arabia kind of has a point when they bring up the Nazi guy...
    The tweet is a real, real bad look though

  • ||

    So, other than sensationalist clickbait, is there a reason why anyone outside Saudi Arabia would choose to confuse Western-style crucifixion with a beheading?

  • ||

    I was thinking the same thing.

    "Saudi Arabia still beheads people as an official act of state" isn't a good enough act of barbarism get worked up about? We have to pretend that beheading someone and putting the body on the display is the same thing as crucifixion in order to generate the needed level of outrage?

    And when the King of Saudi calls the American press a bunch of lying liars, will he be wrong?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Reason is 80% propaganda these days

    Beheading is not crucifixion. End of story. It's probably one of the more humane ways to execute someone.

  • Mickey Rat||

    If the headsman is competent or not intoxicated, but it is quite messy.

  • Alcibiades||

    That's what Brawny paper towels are for.

  • Fancylad||

    No, you want the quilted quicker picker-upper for those jobs.

  • ||

    It's probably one of the more humane ways to execute someone.

    I don't know how hard I'd tug on that thread. I would add that my heart doesn't exactly bleed for a man who stabbed someone to death, stole property, tried to stab someone else to death, and attempted to rape a woman. There may be a case to be had that he wasn't guilty and that some of the charges were trumped up... but fuck all that noise, the people from a different culture crucified beheaded him!

    Executing a duly tried murderer is not (necessarily) worse than imprisoning a holocaust denier in my book.

  • SIV||

    Burmese Lives Matter

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    lol

  • Agammamon||

    OTOH - this is Saudi Arabia. There's a decent chance that he was just some dude someone fingered for the act and the courts basically said 'one third worlder is as good as another'.

  • Incredulous||

    Wow, next you're going to say the Nazi concentration camps employed some of the more humane ways of committing genocide.

  • vek||

    Weeell compared to the Cossacks... ;)

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Jesus Christ!

  • John||

    Why does Saudi Arabia have such a brutal criminal justice system? It is just a mystery.

  • Alcibiades||

    ...we'll never know.

  • Oli||

    Because religion.

  • Fancylad||

    Well to be fair, everyone's was like that 250 years ago. Saudi Arabia just stuck with it.
    Tenacity is a virtue.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Yep. Nothing anti-conservative about Saudi Arabia.

  • ||

    Lets settle this with a game of hockey.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Canada Human Rights Commission agrees to not appear racist.

  • Bubba Jones||

    But Trump!

  • Johnny Hit n Run Paulene||

    butt rump

    FIFY

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "He was arrested and held in solitary confinement in a Toronto jail before Canada deported him back to Germany in 2005. In 2007, Zündel was sentenced to five years in prison for Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred under German law."

    High five canada!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Just this past year, the country was criticized for killing 48 people over the span of four months. About half of those executed by the Saudi government were convicted of nonviolent drug charges.

    Stop. Jeff Sessions' dick can only get so hard.

  • Fancylad||

    Take a toke, your neck they'll stroke.
    Either way you lose your mind.

  • Eddy||

    Crucifixion is understood by Americans as exposing the victim while still alive...the Saudis kill the guy first.

  • Uncle Jay||

    "Saudi King Salman recently endorsed a court's decision to crucify a Myanmar man accused of theft and murder. The man, Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, was charged with breaking into a woman's home and stabbing her to death. He was additionally accused of stealing weapons, trying to stab another man, and attempting to rape a woman."

    Hmmm.
    It appears the Saudis take violent crime seriously.

  • Zeb||

    At least sometimes.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>Saudi King Salman recently endorsed a court's decision to crucify a Myanmar man accused of theft and murder.

    crucify *before* conviction over there?

  • lap83||

    (after beheading)
    Saudi Arabia: "Uh, he actually said he wanted a beheading to ease his pain and torment. We were just assisting him with his final wishes"

    Reason: "Oh, well that's OK then. Why didn't you say so sooner?"

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Sure, we crucified a guy. But have you seen how long it takes to get an x-ray in Canada?

  • SIV||

    Assuming he's guilty I'd say this Saudi punishment is far superior to putting the condemned on death row and giving Radley Balko's wife a chance to write about how horrible that is for 30 years until he takes a hot shot.

    As far as shitty countries justice system goes I do like China's propensity for executing some corrupt and/or incompetent bureaucrats. We should appropriate that bit o' culture.

  • Fancylad||

    You can't run America with only two guys. You might have to redefine "corrupt" first.

  • markm23||

    China's quick executions often ensure that there's no possibility of tracing a criminal scheme to higher level officials.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Well whadda ya expect from godless Canada? Those monsters repealed all laws singling out pregnant women and stripping them of individual rights. If the voters in Mecca didn't like Crown Prince Mohammad's policies, they'd boot him out of office, right?

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    Using "crucifixion" (a lingering painful death) to describe a beheading is abysmal journalistic malpractice. If the author wanted to dig up an archaic word, he might have tried "gibbetting"-- leaving the body of a hanged man up until it rots away. But that does not really fit either.

  • vek||

    The truth is, if you have a fair trial system, and only laws that deserve punishment... There's nothing wrong with swift and harsh punishment.

    I don't have a problem with beheading and publicly displaying a body of a murderer/attempted rapist. Homeboy had it coming.

    You just need to make sure the person is really guilty after a fair trial before doing it.

    As far as killing drug users or whatever, that's obviously ridiculous. But if such swift justice was only for real shit like rape, murder, etc I'd see no problem with it. We're supposed to have a right to a speedy trial in the US, and we typically get anything but. People should get their day in court, and get their appeal if it's warranted, and if they are still found guilty we should just get that shit over with. No reason to waste tax payer money supporting rapists for 30 years.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online