Saudi Arabia has executed a man by crucifixion inside Mecca, considered Islam’s holiest city, Bloomberg reports. It was carried out Wednesday, during the same week a Saudi spat with Canada over human rights criticisms has dramatically escalated into a full-blown diplomatic and economic war.
Ironically the crucifixion was carried out a day after Saudi-owned media began calling out Canada’s human rights record through a series of bizarre videos aired on state channels, in response to Canada’s own initial criticism of the kingdom’s detention of activists.
The crucifixion sentence, considered the kingdom’s most brutal method of capital punishment, is typically reserved for the most egregious of crimes — in this case a Myanmar man was convicted of breaking into a woman’s home, threatening her with a gun, and subsequently murdering her by repeated stabbing. Other charges the immigrant faced ranged from theft of weapons to separate instances of attempted rape and murder, including in a separate home invasion charge.
The accused criminal, Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, was executed after the crucifixion penalty was upheld by the country’s supreme court and given final approval by the king.
Like with the more common and “routine” Saudi capital punishment method of public beheading, crucifixions are intended to send a severe deterrent message to the broader Saudi populace.
Amnesty International provides the following description of the gruesome practice: “Crucifixions take place after the beheading. The body, with the separated head sewn back on, is hung from or against a pole in public to act as a deterrent. The pole is sometimes shaped in the form of a cross, hence the use of the term “crucifixion”.”
Saudi Arabia is among the world’s top executioners, and beheaded over 48 people within only the first four months of 2018, according to Human Rights Watch.
The state typically gives no notice regarding precisely when executions are carried out — all that’s needed for final approval is the king’s personal signature.
In 2015 the kingdom reached a two decade high with over 157, and the following year executed 47 on a single day, including a prominent Shia cleric for leading anti-government protests.
And since 2015 the number of beheadings and executions have remained well over 100 each year. It appears 2018 will be no different.
Saudi Arabia has consistently been in the top three countries conducting the most number of executions per year, with China at the top of the list and Iran often in second.