Saudi Arabia Takes Heat Over Beheading of 'Witch'

Amnesty International condemns move
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2011 11:46 AM CST
Amnesty International Condemns Beheading of Woman in Saudi Arabia Accused of Being a Witch
Amnesty International condemned the decapitation.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It sounds like something out of the wrong century, but Amnesty International finds itself condemning Saudi Arabia for beheading a woman accused of being a witch. Amina bin Salem Nasser was decapitated yesterday after being convicted on charges of "witchcraft and sorcery," though the government didn't spell out exactly what she did through her alleged magic, reports the Telegraph. ABC News reports, via a source who talked to an Arab newspaper, that police said Nasser claimed to be a healer, and had a witchcraft book and liquid-filled glass bottles, ostensibly used for sorcery, in her home.

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Amnesty called the execution "truly appalling" and suggested it might have more to do with freedom than witchcraft. "While we don't know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion," says an Amnesty official. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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