Friday, August 22, 2014

The Murder of James Foley

We are rightly outraged, I think, at the cold-blooded murder of American Journalist James Foley by ISIS militants. Beheading seems like a barbaric former of murder, and it is, but is it really worse than other methods? Would we have been less outraged if he had been murdered in an Arizona type hour long calamity of botched lethal injections?

I'm not try to equate murder of a journalist with execution of a murderer, but I would note that our good buddies in Saudi Arabia have executed at least 19 people by beheading in the last 17 days, eight of them for nonviolent offenses according to this Human Rights Watch report:

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia has executed at least 19 people since August 4, 2014. Local news reports indicate that eight of those executed were convicted of nonviolent offenses, seven for drug smuggling and one for sorcery.

Family members of another man, Hajras bin Saleh al-Qurey, told Human Rights Watch on August 17 that they fear his execution is imminent. The Public Court of Najran, in southern Saudi Arabia, sentenced al-Qurey to death by beheading on January 16, 2013 for allegedly smuggling drugs and attacking a police officer during his arrest.

“Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “There is simply no excuse for Saudi Arabia’s continued use of the death penalty, especially for these types of crimes.”

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Saudi government news agency, on August 18, authorities executed four Saudi men in Najran province. A court had previously convicted the men – identified as Hadi al-Mutlaq, Awadh al-Mutlaq, Mufreh al-Yami, and Ali al-Yami – of attempting to smuggle hashish into the country.