In Saudi Arabia, distinguished as the worldwide capital of beheading, a Pakistani named Mohamed Rafiq Myased and his daughter Abajan (or Apa-jan) were beheaded in Jeddah on this date in 2006 for smuggling drugs.
(Another Pakistani national lost his head in Jeddah 10 days later for the same crime; I’m uncertain whether the cases were related.)
On this date in 2010, a Saudi Arabian man named Mohsen al-Dossary or al-Dussari was beheaded in Riyadh for having shot dead a police officer in nearby Kharj who tried to stop him driving the wrong way on a street.
That’s some costly road rage.
Islamic sharia law provides the victim’s family the right to pardon an offender and stop an execution; implicit in that right is the need for the offended family to make a legally supportable determination to withhold pardon in order for an execution to proceed. In an interesting twist on that jurisprudence, the Saudi Press Agency reported that al-Dossary had to wait several years in prison while the policeman’s sons grew to majority and could legally consent to having the murderer put to death.
He was asked to concoct a spell that would cause the officer’s father to leave his second wife.
According to the officer’s account Abdul Hamid agreed to carry out the curse in exchange for 6,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately £1,000).
He was beaten after his arrest and thought to have been forced to admit to acts of sorcery.
In a secret trial, where he was not allowed legal representation, he was sentenced to death by the General Court in Medina in March 2007.
Few details are available about his trial but he is reported to have been tried behind closed doors and without legal representation.
At the time of his arrest, English language Saudi daily The Saudi Gazette ran an article entitled Magic Maids which said that ‘we must face up to the threats from some maids and servants and their satanic games of witchcraft and sorcery, their robbery, murder, entrapment of husbands, corruption of children and other countless stories of crime that have been highlighted by both experts and victims of these crimes’.
RIYADH—A gay couple was beaded in a public execution Sunday [March 13, 2005] in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of killing a blackmailer. If they had been exposed as gay they could have been executed anyway.
Homosexuality is punishable by flogging, lengthy prison terms or death under Sharia Islamic law.
The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement Sunday announcing the execution. It said that Ahmed al-Enezi and Shahir al-Roubli, both Saudis, ran over Malik Khan in their car, beat him on the head with stones and set fire to his corpse “fearing they would be exposed after the victim witnessed them in a shameful situation”.
The term “shameful situation” is regularly used by the government to refer to homosexual acts.
The ministry said the two men were executed in the northern town of Arar, near the Iraq border.
The Saudi government routinely rounds up people suspected of being gay. All that is needed is a complaint from someone. In some instances men who are not gay who have been arrested were picked up on the complaint of a neighbor following a dispute.
The kingdom also, on a number of occasions, has blocked access to the only gay Arab news and information site on the internet.
Hassan bin Awad al-Zubair, a Sudanese national, was not fortunate enough to have a television audience and months of publicity. Amnesty International thinks that neither he nor his family was even aware that he was death-sentenced until that sentence was actually executed.
The Saudi Interior Ministry statement on this surprise beheading explained that he had asserted the power to heal the sick and “separate married couples.” (Maybe he should have been a television personality after all.)
On this date in 2010, Saudi Arabia carried out its first execution of 2010, beheading Salah ibn Rihaidan ibn Hailan Al-Johani for a reported rape spree in the Muslim holy city of Medina.
Al-Johani was convicted of four rape-robberies with a similar m.o.: pose as a taxi driver, then drive the female passenger to the outskirts of town and assault her.
The sex attacks were uncovered after an attempted rape — commonly referred to as the “Aziziyah girl case” — in 2005. The Aziziyah girl, a 19-year-old secondary school student, was with her sister-in-law heading for her uncle’s home at around 10 p.m. when they got into Al-Johani’s pickup.
As they came close to the uncle’s home, Al-Johani began driving around in circles, saying he was unsure of the location and then drove off at high speed. The two women became suspicious and the Aziziyah Girl threatened to throw herself out of the car if he did not stop.
Al-Johani ignored their demands, and the 19-year-old threw herself out of the car. She died immediately from her injuries. Al-Johani then threw out the other woman who sustained serious injuries.
Two men were beheaded in Riyadh on this date in 2009 for bizarrely causing a man’s death in an unarmed purse-snatching.
An Interior Ministry statement says Faisal bin Fahd and Bandar bin Abdullah first stole the Chinese man’s laptop bag while he was walking. When the man tried to catch up with them, he fell and died after hitting his head on the pavement.
The executions that several of the 21st century world’s more aggressive death penalty users coincidentally carried out a year ago today testify together to the enduring place (and variegated guises) of the headsman in modernity.
Three prisoners were reported killed in Jinan in China on Jan. 15, 2009.
Two were men who had been serving prison terms for separate crimes when they incurred a death sentence for a violent (though seemingly non-lethal) escape attempt.
Liu Junjie, 35, and Wang Bing, 31, broke out of the prison in Zibo City on December 8, 2007 as a truck was moving out of the prison gate, according to a statement from the Shandong Provincial High People’s Court.
They hit a prison worker and two policemen with iron bars and choppers as they forced their way out. They were later caught as they fled along a road.
Former cabbie Bo Lijun shared that fate for a series of thefts, rapes, and murders.
According to the court, Bo raped and suffocated a female barber on Oct. 23, 2002 in Dongying.
Bo attempted to rape a female passenger in a wooded area near Dongying on July 29, 2006. Although he abandoned the rape attempt, he clubbed her to death for fear she would inform the police, and he buried the body at the site.
Al-Ahmari was a minor when he was sentenced. The statement said his execution was delayed until he came of age.
62-year-old James Callahan suffered lethal injection in Alabama Jan. 15, 2009, after 26 years on death row for raping and murdering a Jacksonville State University student in 1982. Callahan
requested a last meal of two corn dogs, french fries and a Coke … spent the day visiting with family and spiritual supporters … receive[d] communion at 4:30 p.m.
Callahan’s will bequeaths to his son $36.42 from his prison account, a black and white Radio Shack TV, two watches, a Walkman, some headphones, a leather belt, two pairs of boots, one pair of Nike tennis shoes, food items and legal papers.
(This incident was not brought to our attention until after the post was already up, but in the peripatetic spirit of the entry, we thought it suitable to append.)
Perhaps the first pol executed by Islamists, Ahmed was once the spokesman for a faction in the Somali civil war. He was put to death for collaborating with the Ethiopians who invaded Somalia at U.S. behest. As the Ethiopians were Christian, this behavior qualified as “apostasy” to the militants’ sharia court.
In January 2009, Ethiopia was in the process of withdrawing its military presence in its war-torn neighbor.
On this date in 1817, the last ruler of the first state established by the Al Saud who rule the modern state of Saudi Arabia lost his head to the Ottoman Sultan.
The Ottoman state and its (largely independent) vassal Egypt begged to dispute the Wahhabi tribe’s authority in the Arabian peninsula (and its proclivity for raiding Ottoman caravans) and made war on the House of Saud throughout the 1810′s.
We pick up the action from the third-hand, well-after-the-fact reports of the London Times. This, printed on Jan. 16 1819 under the “German Papers” heading:
FROM THE TURKISH FRONTIERS, DEC. 16.
The last victory over the Wechabites puts an end to the war at once. Ibrahim Pacha, who commanded the Turkish army, sends the captive Abdallah to Constantinople, but he first had his head shaved, and all his teeth pulled out.
On Feb. 6, the Times channeled the Dutch and Flanders mail:
Intelligence from Constantinople, dated the 24th December, states, that the Chief of the Wechabites, Abdallah, and his Iman, were brought prisoners into that capital on the 16th of the same month. After being led, in chains, through the principal streets, they were taken to prison and put to the torture. On the following morning, they were brought before the Sultan and beheaded. Their naked bodies were exposed during three days, and then delivered to the populace.
In addition to Abdullah himself, this affair finished off the city of Diriyah as a Saudi capital.
On this date in 1977, a 19-year-old royal adulteress and her paramour were executed in a Jeddah parking lot by the order of the girl’s powerful grandfather.
Princess Misha’al‘s fate has been obscured by secrecy and the Rashomon-like interpretations imposed upon it by observers.
In its outline (and the first stock interpretation we’re imposing) it’s that timeless human tragedy, the love story, in which headstrong royal daughter and suffocating traditional family square off over the seditious power of the feminine libido.
The princess, in a youthful arranged marriage by most accounts, took up with a Saudi boy while both were studying abroad in cosmopolitan Beirut, and dangerously attempted to maintain the affair back in the royal kingdom to the point of a quixotic (and obviously foiled) escape attempt. Whether under color of a judicial proceeding — the story says Misha’al refused to walk away by simply renouncing her lover and defiantly brought down the death sentence by confessing adultery — or simply on his own authority, the girl’s staunchly conservative* grandfather exercised his right as tribal patriarch to inflict an honor killing for the disgrace they had brought on the family.
The execution in Jeddah — she by gunshot,** he by a very clumsy beheading — that is supposed to have occurred on this date was public, but quiet; news of it got abroad only slowly and incompletely. Small wonder that, once it did, the blended motifs of Romeo and Juliet, harem titillation and oil politics made dynamite material for high-, middle- or lowbrow exploitation.
In 1980, the affair became the subject of one of the most notorious television programs ever aired, the docudrama Death of a Princess. This film’s airing in Britain in 1980 led Riyadh to expel the British ambassador, and cost £200 million of lost revenue for the UK from canceled orders and product boycotts by the Saudis.†
It was aired on in the United States on PBS in 1980 to similar controversy, as oil companies rushed to distance themselves from it.
Rebroadcast in 2005, Death of a Princess is available online for your judgment (as is this partial script): is this a muckraking expose of a shameful crime? orientalist heavy petting? “a sensitive and thoughtful exploration of the Arab dilemma,” as per its own advance publicity? and what did the official apologies (and in only a few countries, censorship) say about the political weight of the petroleum industry?
These, meanwhile, are the western reactions, already removed from events by a further layer of mediation, a forest of axes seeking grinding. If the writer who composed this piece is to be believed, the executed girl has posthumously achieved a sort of universal symbolic gravity in the Arab world, standing for the plight of any hopeless cause of justice dashed against authoritarian power.
* For the House of Saud, it must be recalled, the personal was political in the problematic confrontation between tradition and modernity athwart the desert kingdom’s sea of oil.
** “Princess Misha’al” was executed fully veiled, which permits the rumor that the slain woman was actually a surrogate and the onetime royal favorite lives on incognito somewhere.