Saudis Beheaded for Sodomy
Men Convicted of Extreme Obscenity, Ugly Acts Under Nations Islamic Law
Blade, January 4, 2002
By Kim Krisberg
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—On the heels of the verdict in
the "Cairo 52" trial in Egypt, where 23 men were sentenced to terms
of hard labor after being convicted of acts of indecency, three Saudi men were
beheaded this week for sodomy.
The men were beheaded Tuesday, Jan. 1, in Abha, a city in southwestern
Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia said in a statement
reported on the Web site for Arab News, which calls itself Saudi Arabias first
English-language daily. The three men were Ali bin Hatan bin Saad, Mohammad
bin Suleiman bin Mohammad, and Mohammad bin Khalil bin Abdullah. According to
Arab News, the men were found guilty of "engaging in the extreme
obscenity and ugly acts of homosexuality, marrying among themselves and
molesting the young." The article also reported that "the three men
repeated the acts several times and assaulted people who told them to
"Saudi Arabia is the absolute strictest" when it comes to laws
governing social life, besides the now-fallen Afghanistan, according to Dr.
Laura Drake, an international affairs expert at American University.
Drake, an adjunct professor at American, said the news of the beheadings
didnt surprise her at all. Despite its alliance with Saudi Arabia in the war
against terrorism, Drake said she doubts the United States would get involved
in human rights issues in the Middle Eastern country; there, acts of
homosexuality are capital crimes and considered a sin against God.
Reports from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, surfaced this week saying that three men
had been beheaded for alleged same-sex activity in the southwestern part of
To raise the human rights issue, Drake said, would not be in the interests
of the United States, which wouldn't want to threaten its top priorities, such
as national security, by bringing up a human rights matter. In addition, she
said, Saudi Arabia is a pro-U.S. regime with the largest oil supply in the
world and carries much influence with other Arab countries. Strategically,
Drake said, Saudi Arabia is too important for the United States to begin
withering political and financial ties in the name of human rights.
Sharon Burke, Amnesty International USA's advocacy director for the Middle
East and North Africa, said her organization confirmed with the Saudi Ministry
of the Interior that three men were beheaded for sodomy. She said Amnesty was
unable to get more information on the case.
Calls to the U.S. State Department and the Saudi Arabian embassy in
Washington, D.C., were not returned by deadline.
Burke said an Amnesty program called Urgent Actions would send letters to
the Saudi Arabian government to express concern and protest the executions.
The group will also continue to pressure the U.S. government to raise a range
of human rights concerns with the Saudi government.
Governing in Saudi Arabia is based on the Sharia or Islamic law, Drake
said, and the make-up of the law is handed down through interpretation. The
only types of sexual relations allowed in the country are between husband and
Burke said that although it might be a struggle to influence U.S.-Saudi
relations, it is not impossible.
"I don't believe its futile just because you won't get the U.S.
severing relations with Saudi Arabia, doesn't mean it wont get raised in
private channels," she said. "The long-term stability of the Middle
East is still very much in the minds of U.S. policy makers and [human rights]
are a piece of this puzzle."
Drake, who said she believes that little will be accomplished by putting
pressure on the United States, said one strategy for effecting pro-gay change
in the Middle East is for gay activists to forge ties with the global women's
rights movement, which has already gained considerable momentum.
The issue of gay rights goes much deeper than politics, according to Drake;
it is also a social and religious one. There is no way to reconcile gay rights
with Islam, she said.
But Hussien Ibish, communications director for the American Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, disagreed.
Islam, he said, varies depending on interpretation, like many religions.
Within the Saudi government interpretation, Ibish conceded, reconciliation is
probably not possible.
When Ibish heard of the beheadings, his first words were, "That's
astonishing." He said he had never heard of executions in the Arab world
"There's a very serious problem with anti-gay attitudes not only in
the Arab world, but in the world generally and in the developing world,"
He said recent anti-gay legal actions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia should not
color the opinion of that region or of Islam.
"There are a lot Arab Americans who support gay rights and are opposed
to this kind of punishment in general," he said. Taking recent actions as
representative, Ibish said, would be like characterizing the opinions of
conservatives Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as representative of American
Ibish said he believes and hopes that this kind of extreme Islamic belief
will not prevail.
"Politics and social order based on religion," he said, "are
a bad idea."
[Home] [World] [Saudi Arabia]