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Don’t Celebrate Yet That Saudi Arabia May Halt Beheading Executions

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on March 12, 2013

Great news: The oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia may finally halt the barbaric practice of beheading its convicts sentenced to be executed.

Bad news: It’s because there’s a shortage of government swordsmen.

Expected result: They’ll simply replace beheadings with firing squads.

George Bush, Salman
Amateur painter, left, needs a job; AP Photo/Susan Walsh

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Ahram Online has more on this joint committee’s thinking:

“This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid interruption of the regularly-taken security arrangements,” the committee said in a statement.

The ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom beheaded 76 people in 2012, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Human Rights Watch (HRW) put the number at 69.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Sharia, or Islamic Law. So far this year, three people have been executed.

Human rights atrocities aside for a moment, there’s some weird math at play here: If 76 people were sentenced to execution by beheading, how many government swordsmen do you actually need? That’s fewer than two per week. Wouldn’t you really only need one swordsman? Two, if the first one calls in sick, or if you’re executing two at a time?

Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that Saudi Arabia may be evolving, transporting itself from the 15th century to the 19th. Wait, hang on, strike that, even though it’s delayed, this place STILL DOES CRUCIFIXIONS.

saudi arabia crucifixion

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