Beheading Under king Salman of Saudi Arabia Stirs Attention

January 27, 2015 1:01 pm

New king Salman of

Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a
man convicted of raping several girls in a case that has captured the
kingdom’s attention and marks the first beheading carried out under the
newly enthroned King Salman.

The Interior
Ministry said Moussa al-Zahrani was executed in the city of Jiddah. The
ministry’s statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said
al-Zahrani was convicted of luring underage girls, intoxicating them,
forcing them to watch pornographic videos and then physically and
sexually assaulting them.

His alleged victims were children assaulted in 2011 in a string of attacks in Jiddah.

The
case has caused a stir on social media — which is unusual in Saudi
Arabia for cases of violent crimes — in part because al-Zahrani claimed
his innocence throughout the trial and two later appeals.

Last
year, al-Zahrani appealed in a 20-minute video for Abdullah,
who died on Friday, to intervene. In the widely-viewed video, the
45-year-old Arabic teacher claimed he was framed by police and that a
man — a neighbor of 10 years — who accused him of molesting his daughter
was also a police investigator in the case.

An Arabic hashtag on
Twitter, “We are all Moussa al-Zahrani” garnered thousands of comments
by Saudis with conflicting opinions over the case.
Al-Zahrani’s
relatives appeared on Saudi talk shows, saying the case was riddled
with inconsistencies and that the judiciary did not weigh all the
evidence. They claimed a medical report found the investigator’s 10
year-old daughter had not been assaulted and that several cases of
assault against young girls took place in Jiddah while al-Zahrani was
already jailed.
His brother, Hassan al-Zahrani said after the execution that his brother, a father of six, could not
have committed the crimes he was convicted of.
Saudi
Arabia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the world,
follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law and applies the death
penalty for crimes such as murder, rape and witchcraft.
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