Beheading of Lebanese for witchcraft
Published Date: April 03, 2010 

BEIRUT: A Lebanese man condemned to death for witchcraft by a Saudi court was 
not beheaded yesterday as had been expected, his lawyer said. Attorney May 
Al-Khansa said Lebanon's justice minister told her that her client, Ali Sibat, 
"would not be executed in Saudi Arabia Friday" -- the day executions are 
typically carried out in the kingdom after noon prayers. She said it is still 
unclear whether the beheading had been waived or only postponed.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials, and Lebanese Justice 
Minister Ibrahim Najjar was not available for comment "Ali Sibat will stay 
alive this Friday but we don't know what is going to happen the next day, 
Saturday, Monday, any other day," Al-Khansa told The Associated Press. "What 
the (justice) minister told us was not enough for the family, it is not enough 
for me, because we really need Ali Sibat to be released." Sibat, a 49-year-old 
father of five, made predictions on an Arab satellite
TV channel from his home in Beirut.

He was arrested by the Saudi religious police during his pilgrimage to the holy 
city of Medina in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November for witchcraft. 
The Saudi justice system, which is based on Islamic law, does not clearly 
define the charge of witchcraft. Sibat is one of scores of people reported 
arrested every year in the kingdom for practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black 
magic and fortunetelling. The deeply religious authorities in Saudi consider 
these practices polytheism. Sibat's wife, Samira, appealed to Saudi authorities 
to release her husband.

He didn't do anything wrong ... he did not harm anyone," she said tearfully. 
"If they want to do a humanitarian thing they will return him to his country." 
The lawyer added she is slightly optimistic the postponement of the execution 
meant Sibat would be released.

On Thursday, a dozen people rallied near the Saudi embassy in Beirut to protest 
the impeding execution. New York-based Human Rights Watch said last year 
Sibat's death sentence should be overturned and called on the Saudi government 
to halt its "increasing use of charges of 'witchcraft,' crimes that are vaguely 
defined and arbitrarily used." - 

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