Amnesty International (a leftist organization of which we are highly critical, but which occasionally does something right) has published a petition that we think needs to be widely circulated. (This is our Facebook version of it).
Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced to death after being jailed for more than 22 months in the Saudi Arabian city Abha – without clear legal charges beyond “insulting Allah” and having “ideas that do not suit Saudi society”. These charges are based on the complaint of a reader’s interpretation of Fayadh’s 2008 poetry collection titled “Instructions Within”. This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have arrested Ashraf Fayadh. The poet was detained before after a Saudi citizen filed a complaint with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice accusing Fayadh of having “misguided and misguiding thoughts”. Fayadh was bailed out of jail at the time, only to get arrested again. According to sources close to Fayadh, the poet has been denied both visitation and legal representation rights. We condemn these acts of intimidation targeting Ashraf Fayadh as part of a wider campaign inciting hate against writers and using Islam to justify oppression and to crush free speech. We express our solidarity with Fayadh, hoping to increase support for the poet as well as pressure to release him. Our efforts should come together to ensure the proliferation of free speech and personal freedoms. We specifically call on Saudi intellectuals to express solidarity with Fayadh against Takfiris’ intimidation practices meant to silence poets, writers, and artists like him. Let the flag of creativity fly free. Remaining silent towards Fayadh’s detention is an insult to knowledge, literature, culture, and thought as well as to freedom and human rights.
Please follow this link and sign the petition to spare Ashraf Fayadh’s life. (We found it is not necessary to give more than your name and email address.)