The World Reacts to Saudi Arabia’s Witch Hunt


Written by Amira Al Hussaini

Saudi Arabia has executed a 60-year-old woman for practicing “witchcraft and sorcery.” The beheading of Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser in the northern province of Jawf yesterday has angered international human rights organisations and sparked the ridicule of netizens on Twitter.

According to news reports, the woman was accused by the religious police who arrested her for “tricking people into thinking she could treat illnesses” and charging them money for the “treatment.” She was arrested in April 2009 and convicted in a Saudi court.

Amnesty International described the beheading as “deeply shocking and highlights the urgent need for a halt in executions in Saudi Arabia.”

“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” said Philip Luther Amnesty International’s interim Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

On Twitter, Ahmed Al Attar, from Abu Dhabi, the UAE, mocks:

@AhmedwAlAttar: Lets all congratulate Saudi, the beheading of the dubiously-judged “witch” means they have now entered the 16th century.

Emirates-based journalist Tom Gara jokes:

@tomgara: Doesn’t Saudi Arabia know that beheading a witch only increases her magical powers?

And Canadian Kevin Carter adds:

@wapimaskwa69: Woman beheaded for being a witch. Not a Monty Python sketch, just another day in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar-based Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell asks:

@blakehounshell: Curious to know: How does one prove the charge of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia?

The question garnered some funny reactions. Fatma Makki, from Muscat, Oman, responds:

@fatamo: @blakehounshell 1)See if she floats if u drop her in a barrel of oil 2) Give her car keys: if she knows what to do with it she’s obv[iously] a witch

And Bahraini Abdulla Al Romaihi notes:

@Abdulla287: No, they push them off a cliff if she flies she’s a witch, if not then she dies & goes to heaven ( :

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 79 people, including five women, this year, according to Amnesty International. This is triple the number of executions, compared to last year when 27 people were beheaded.

The human rights organisation adds:

Hundreds more people are believed to be under sentence of death, many of them convicted of drugs offences. They have often had no defence lawyer and in many cases have not been informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them.

This post was originally published by  Global Voices.


Related Stories:

Saudi Woman Beheaded For “Sorcery”

Saudi Woman Faces Flogging For Driving

Women Athletes, Women Drivers: Not In Saudi Arabia


Photo from AfghanistanMatters via flickr


faiza Aamir
faiza shah4 years ago

i dont know about others but i am a Muslim and i condemn this. I believe in one God and His prophets , His 4 books, angels and the day of resurrection ... i believe in good deeds may God help us all amen.

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

Allies... we sure know how to pick 'em.

Ravens Watch
Past Member 5 years ago

There is not a single religion that I can not look at and see a minority (about 33%) that cause problems and make their religion look bad. I wouldn't mind having a few real witches in my life as friends - based on what I have seen, those that practice witchcraft or believe in it seem far more sincere than some of those who claim allegiance to main stream religions!

Christina B.
Christina B6 years ago

When I read in the headline of the article "The world reacts" I was hoping it meant that the international community (the UN, in particular) had taken steps against this disgusting and utterly inhumane practice.

But, alas, it was only about tweets the Saudi Arabian government won't even sweat over -- mainly because they have no idea what Tweeter is.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

This is sad at best.
The witch's first rule is.....'to do what thy will....and harm none'.

Can most religions say that?
Don't think so.

Tommy S.
Tommy S6 years ago

@ AbdulAziz A.
islam has very little regard for the lives of nonmuslims and the history of it merely confirms it
and to state Quote......"Hence Live and Let Live "......Unquote This is a concept totally foreign to islam
and the mufti says---It is wrong to say that Islam teaches us to respect the religious beliefs of non-Muslims. To respect the beliefs of others means to respect kufr and shirk. This is totally unacceptable. and An Islamic state is established with the sole purpose of establishing the Deen of Allah Ta’ala on Allah’s earth. The prime object is to entrench Islam in the land. Should any individual’s personal interests be in conflict with this objective, preference will obviously be given to the Deen. The Islamic State is established for the Deen, and not for any particular individual or group.
and koran 5:32....33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and AND STRIVE TO MAKE MISCHIEF IN THE LAND is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

It seems this poor girl did indeed fall foul of islamic teachings

Gillian Miller
Gillian M6 years ago

Abdul, Saudi is a Muslim entity ruled by a Muslim with as much consideration and care of the people as any other Muslim entity. Sharia law is imposed on the people and the country is rather xenophobic.

As usual, you fail to cite any evidence to support any of your claims making them worthless.

Gillian Miller
Gillian M6 years ago


We, in the West, learned some centuries ago that women make good carers and perform miracles with what we have learned but in Muslim dominated countries, women cannot be so. It is this abysmal attitude that such women Amina must face. I hope that her death was not in vain and that the outcry will make the Saudis stop and think that this is a barbaric custom and, perhaps, reconsider their attitude.

Well, if there is no hope then there is no future!

AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A6 years ago

Carola, Rob&J and others - do you really believe that the Saudis actions are Islamic rulings ??? You must be either very naive or ignorant of what goes on there. The rulers are merely there because they are suitable for the Western rulers and corporates. As I mentioned earlier, they are keeping them in power so they suppress the public and the public can not ask the questions. If the public were given the freedom, they would drive the rulers to the sea very quickly.

It is just a little game and the rulers of all nations want to keep everyone thinking in different ways and not worry about the mess around them. A murder or two or a few thousands is nothing for these puppets of the West. The West also pays the lip service but cares little or nothing for the suffering masses as long as their supplies are cheap and uninterrupted.

Do gooders trying to reform other's religious beliefs need to petition their own rulers and get them to pressurise their cronies elsewhere and give the public their right to choose (instead of imposing their own choices)
As regards others religions, you are not forced to accept what they say or practice as long as it does not effect you. Any one can pick faults in other only fail to see what is happening around them.
Hence Live and Let Live will suit a lot of Care2 ers.

Gillian Miller
Gillian M6 years ago

This still happens in Africa where education has not really made it and stuperstition rules, as in Saudi.

Saudi has only recently pulled itself into the 21st century by using the money gained from oil revenue. The money has been spent, not on benefitting the country which still lives in the same state as it did 1,600 years ago, but to making the extremely large royal family comfortable. The large number of people who should have been educated to help them live in this century have been denied this as well as other ways of making their life more comfortable. Anyone who is not a member of the royal family lives in fear and subjugation never knowing when they will be reported for something with an horrendous punishment. This would be similar to the life led in China under Mao who had brother reporting brother and childrent their parents.

This behaviour comes from an intolerant and uncaring religion whose law has been forced onto people regardless. This religion regards women as third class chattels with no rights and the idea of a woman doing something kind and intelligent is an anathema so she must be killed and, preferably tortured so that other women do not follow suit. Education, sympathy, goodness, any of these positive attributes must be destroyed at source.

We, in the West, learned some centuries ago that women make good carers and perform miracles with what we have learned but in Muslim dominated countries, women cannot be so. It is this abysmal attitude