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Immediate release of artist, poet and curator Ashraf Fayadh

November 28, 2015


We, the undersigned, denounce the death penalty verdict that the Saudi Arabian courts have sentenced to artist, poet and curator Ashraf Fayadh, based on the charge of apostasy on November 17th. Not only does the death penalty violate the fundamental principle of human rights, but it contravenes the Saudi Kingdom’s proclaimed policy of openness, moderation, and engagement through dialogue and understanding with the precepts of contemporary societies it comes into contact with everyday. Furthermore, to our great sorrow and outrage, this verdict does not seem very different from those issued and implemented by the extremist fundamentalist movements, on a daily basis, to all those who don’t abide to their convictions. In fact, this verdict issued by a state court extends argument and empowerment to the impunity of the sinister practices of these extremists.

We, the undersigned –writers, artists, curators, poets, intellectuals and academics–, demand the immediate release of Ashraf Fayadh in the defense of justice, freedom and dignity. He incarnates our conscience and our unwavering belief that only freedom, justice and dignity can blunt extremism and terror.



Nous, soussignés, condamnons fermement le jugement rendu le 17 novembre 2015 par les tribunaux saoudiens prononçant la peine de mort à l’encontre de l’artiste, poète et commissaire d’expositions, Ashraf Fayadh, accusé d’apostasie.

Non seulement la peine de mort constitue une violation du principe fondamental des droits de l’homme, mais elle va à l’encontre de la politique proclamée par les autorités saoudiennes, d’ouverture, de modération, et de dialogue avec les sociétés contemporaines. De plus, force est de constater avec douleur et amertume, que ce verdict ne semble pas très différent de ceux rendus et exécutés quotidiennement par les mouvements extrémistes fondamentaux à l’encontre de tous ceux qui n’obéissent pas à leurs convictions.  Cette peine prononcée par un tribunal étatique vient renforcer et consolider l’impunité des pratiques sinistres perpétrées par ces extrémistes.

Nous soussignés, écrivains, artistes, commissaires d’expositions, poètes, intellectuels et académiciens, demandons la mise en liberté immédiate de Ashraf Fayadh au nom des principes de justice, de liberté et de dignité, et ce, partant de notre profonde conviction que seuls ces principes sont susceptibles de combattre l’extrémisme et la terreur.


Sign the petition here.


Ashraf Fayadh was arrested in August 2013 in his home city of Abha in southwestern Saudi Arabia, after a man he had argued with while watching a soccer game in a cafe reported him to the religious police, his father, Abdul-Satar Fayadh, said in an interview with France 24 Arabic.

The elder Mr. Fayadh said that the charges against his son were based on a personal vendetta and “have no basis in truth.”

Mr. Fayadh was released without charge, but rearrested in January 2014 and accused of blasphemy and of having illicit relationships with women, according to Mr. Coogle of Human Rights Watch.

The first charge was based on the testimony of the man who reported him and of two officers from the religious police who arrested him, and on the contents of a poetry book called “Instructions Within” that Mr. Fayadh had published in 2008, Mr. Coogle said, citing court documents. The second charge was based on photographs found on Mr. Fayadh’s cellphone of him with women.

A court in Abha found him guilty on both charges and sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 blows, Mr. Coogle said.

But that sentence was thrown out on appeal, and Mr. Fayadh was retried in a process that ended last week. He was found guilty on five charges that included spreading atheism, threatening the morals of Saudi society and having illicit relations with women, according to court documents. He was sentenced to death for apostasy.

“This is just another example of the egregious cases that we have seen so many of this year,” said Mr. Coogle, who closely tracks the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Read more in the NYTimes.


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