UK MPs urge govt. to pressure Saudis to drop jailed scholar’s death penalty

Imprisoned Saudi Muslim scholar Hassan Farhan al-Maliki (Photo via Twitter)

More than a dozen British legislators have called on the London government to pressure ally Saudi Arabia into cancelling the death sentence handed down to an imprisoned Muslim scholar and academic.

The sixteen lawmakers urged Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to submit “urgent protests” to Saudi Arabia, urging the kingdom not to execute Hassan Farhan al-Maliki.

“We are deeply concerned that a Saudi intellectual may face execution for intellectual crimes... Hassan’s execution, if carried out, could represent a major step backwards” in the path of the country’s much-advertised social reforms, they wrote.

The legislators also urged Truss to contact her Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, immediately “to ensure that the charges against Maliki are dropped, and that a Saudi scientist and historian will not be executed because of his essays and published books.”

Saudi authorities arrested Maliki in 2017, and brought a number of charges against him, such as “conducting interviews with Western media outlets” and “possessing unauthorized books.” The so-called Saudi Specialized Criminal Court has accused him of 14 different charges.

Saudi prosecutors sought the death penalty against him in 2019.

Last September, a human rights organization expressed serious concern about the deliberate medical negligence against political dissidents being kept in detention centers across Saudi Arabia.

Sanad human rights organization, which defends political and civil rights in Saudi Arabia and monitors human rights violations and exposes them to public opinion as well as international organizations, said Saudi prison authorities deliberately deprive inmates of medical treatment as part of their policy of abusing and killing them silently.

While all governments are obliged under the international law to protect human beings against rights violations and ensure their freedom and dignity, the repressive policy of Saudi officials against jailed activists has significantly undermined such principles, Sanad noted.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

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