WORLD
Who Is Israa al-Ghomgham? Female Saudi Activist May Be Beheaded After Death Sentence
BY DAVID BRENNAN ON 8/21/18 AT 12:23 PM EDT
In this file photo, a man walks beside the Saudi flag in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on December 9, 2015.
JORDAN PIX/GETTY IMAGES
WORLD
SAUDI ARABIA
DEATH PENALTY
HUMAN RIGHTS
WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Human rights figures in Saudi Arabia have warned the kingdom may soon execute a female activist who was handed a provisional death sentence.
Israa al-Ghomgham, 29, has been imprisoned since 2015, along with her husband Moussa al-Hashem. Both were jailed for involvement in anti-government protests in the Shiite majority region of Qatif, in the east of the country. Saudi Arabia is majority Sunni Muslim, as is the autocratic royal family.
According to Middle East Eye, Ghomgham was a leader of the protests that have been simmering since 2011, supporters of which accuse the government of anti-Shiite discrimination and demand the release of political prisoners.
BEST OF NEWSWEEK VIA EMAIL
On August 6, Ghomgham appeared in front of the Specialised Criminal Court—used for terrorism cases—in the country's capital, Riyadh. The public prosecutor recommended death sentences for Ghomgham, Hashem and four other defendants.
The final hearing in Ghomgham's case will be held on October 28, when a judge will either confirm or overturn the death penalty. If upheld, the case will go to King Salman bin Abdulaziz for final ratification, after which the beheading will be carried out.
Ali Adubisi, the director of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR), said Ghomgham's sentence sets "a dangerous precedent" for Saudi activists. That all of the charges are related to protesting rather than any violent actions that would normally carry the sentence means that any detained political activists could face the same fate.
Adubisi told the Middle East Eye that the sentence is designed as "revenge against the Arab Spring, and a punishment for Qatif, which witnessed the largest protests since 2011." An ESOHR report released last week suggested the kingdom remains "wedded" to capital punishment, even as its rulers try to promote a more liberal image of the country.
NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
RELATED STORIES
Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said all executions are "appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behavior, is monstrous." Whitson added: "Every day, the Saudi monarchy's unrestrained despotism makes it harder for its public relations teams to spin the fairy tale of 'reform' to allies and international business."
Ghomgham's provisional sentence has sparked a social media campaign calling for mercy. Though the country has executed women in the past as punishment for violent crimes like murder, this could be the first time an activist is killed.
Circulation of a 2015 video showing the execution of a Saudi woman sparked reports Ghomgham may have already been executed, but her family dismissed the rumors as false.
At least 58 people are currently on death row in Saudi Arabia according to the ESOHR, 31 of whom have exhausted the appeals process. Though fewer people were killed in 2017 than 2016, the kingdom remains the third most prominent country for executions. The rate of executions has risen with the ascension of King Salman to the throne in 2015, reaching levels not seen since the 1990s.
Though King Salman and his son and heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have attempted to promote a more liberal image of Saudi Arabia internationally, its citizens remain severely repressed. The prince has been the face of the supposed modernization of the country, and the driving force behind the Vision 2030 project that seeks to diversify the economy and create a "more vibrant society."
"If the crown prince is truly serious about reform, he should immediately step in to ensure no activist is unjustly detained for his or her human rights work," Whitson argued.
REQUEST REPRINT & LICENSING, SUBMIT CORRECTION OR VIEW EDITORIAL GUIDELINES
Loading...
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
Israel Faces Rockets from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Conflict Threatens to Grow
Airstrike Destroys Building In Gaza Containing AP, Al Jazeera News Bureaus
The Woke Generation is Demonizing Dissent and Due Process
Video of Cop Taking Down Man Who Pulled Gun on Him Viewed 1 Million Times
The Republican Push to Ban Critical Race Theory Reveals an Ugly Truth
Palestinian Groups Reveal Demands, 'Ready to Face Off' Israel Gaza Invasion
Why The Fighting in the Middle East? Hamas Is Dedicated to Killing Jews
Ban Critical Race Theory Now
Chrissy Teigen Says She Was 'Attention Seeking Troll' in Stodden Apology
THE DEBATE
BY MAX EDEN
VS
The Republican Push to Ban Critical Race Theory Reveals an Ugly Truth
BY MARCUS JOHNSON
OPINION
How Los Angeles Descended Into Neo-Feudalism—and How to Fix It
How to Win Back Americans Turning Away from Doctors for Medical Guidance
BY KAREN STRAUSS
Joe Biden's Systemic Socialism
BY RICK SCOTT
We on the Left Need to Fix our Broken Israel/Palestine Politics
BY ARASH AZIZI
Four Months After an Insurrection, It's Time to Move Forward—Not Move On
BY CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, NORM EISEN AND JOANNA LYDGATE
The Woke Generation is Demonizing Dissent and Due Process
Iranians to the Biden Administration: Do Not Lift Sanctions on Iran
BY HAYVI BOUZO AND BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
Operation Warp Speed Was a Tremendous Success. Let's Build on It
BY TOM COTTON
Why The Fighting in the Middle East? Hamas Is Dedicated to Killing Jews
BY AVI MAYER
Cheney Had to Go, But Stefanik Only Postpones the Inevitable
BY ARTHUR BLOOM
LATEST NEWS
Texas Has Zero Deaths After Biden Said its Reopening Plan was 'Neanderthal'
28 Democratic Senators Call for 'Immediate Ceasefire' in Gaza Conflict
Nashville Gas Station Mocks Hunter Biden With Meme: 'Don't Get Too High'
This Small, Simple Keurig Delivers Fresh Coffee Fast
Trump Jr. Praises Anti-Cancel-Culture Rant of Comedian That Roasted His Dad
14 of the Rarest Cat Breeds
Florida Man Dies From 'Mangrove Lodged Into His Head': Authorities
AP Editor Warns World Will 'Know Less' About Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Man Loses Much of Small Intestine After Blood Clot From AstraZeneca Vaccine
Ben Crump Wants to End 'Legalized Genocide,' 'Killing African Americans'
Republicans Pan Firing of Space Force CO Over 'Partisan Political Activity'
EDITOR'S PICK
WORLD
Israel Says Tower It Bombed Housing Reporters 'Not Media Center,' Hamas HQ
Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said the Al-Jalaa tower used by media outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera also housed elaborate Hamas intelligence, weapons-development and advanced technological operations.
U.S.
Donald Trump 'Unhinged' Over Arizona Vote Fraud Claims: GOP Official
"We can't indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country," Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said.
OPINION
How Los Angeles Descended Into Neo-Feudalism—and How to Fix It
Los Angeles may never pass New York as a world capital, but the prospect of a livable and attractive future, a beacon to a new generation, is possible if we can only make an exit from political dogma and create it.
U.S.
Gay Police Group Blasts NYC Pride Parade Organizers Banning Them
On Saturday, organizers of New York City's Pride events said that LGBTQ+ law enforcement members would be barred from participating in its festivities until at least 2025.
CHOOSE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION
PREMIUM

Newsweek magazine delivered to your door

Unlimited access to Newsweek.com

Ad free Newsweek.com experience

iOS and Android app access

Personalized daily newsletter
DIGITAL+

Unlimited access to Newsweek.com

Ad free Newsweek.com experience

iOS and Android app access

Personalized daily newsletter
NEWSLETTER
BEST OF NEWSWEEK VIA EMAIL
Daily news headlines & detailed briefings enjoyed by half a million readers.

© 2021 NEWSWEEK DIGITAL LLC
Editions:
About Us
Announcements
Archive
Corrections
Contact Us
Editorial Guidelines
Advertise
Copyright
Terms & Conditions
Privacy Policy
Cookie Policy
Terms of Sale

The best of Newsweek via email
U.S.›World›Business›Tech & Science›Culture›Newsgeek›Sports›Health›Opinion›Experts›Vantage›About UsAnnouncements
U.S.WorldBusinessTech & ScienceCultureNewsgeekSportsHealthOpinionExpertsVantageAbout UsAnnouncements