According to PEN International, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death on 17 November 2015 by a Saudi Arabian court for renouncing Islam.
Fayadh, 35, told The Guardian: “I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death.”
In August 2013, Fayadh was detained and released on bail after one day for his poetry collection, ‘Instructions Within,’ that some believed promoted atheism. The book was published in 2008.
He was later arrested in January 2014 for allegedly spreading atheism and blaspheming publicly, and was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes in May 2014. The case was thrown out on appeal and the recent retrial followed wherein a Saudi court sentenced him to death for apostasy, the abandonment or renunciation of a religious belief.
Fayadh has 30 days to appeal the ruling, but does not have any legal representation.
Freemuse supports the call for his immediate release being led by PEN International, English PEN and PEN American Center.
» The New York Times – 22 November 2015:
Saudi Artist’s Death Sentence Follows a String of Harsh Punishments
» PEN – 20 November 2015:
Saudi Arabia sentences poet to death
» The Guardian – 20 November 2015:
Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam
» Artsfreedom.org – 21 January 2014:
Saudi Arabia: Palestinian poet jailed for ‘atheism and long hair’