Ali Sibat Has Been Spared

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Word has come that Lebanese citizen Ali Sibat will not be executed in Saudi Arabia for the crime of sorcery.  Sibat, who was seized by Saudi Arabia’s religious police in 2008 while returning from the holy city of Mecca, was accused of sorcery and sentenced to death for making televised predictions about the future in Lebanon.

“May al-Khansa told The Associated Press that the Saudi ambassador in Beirut informed the Lebanese justice minister that the execution of Ali Sibat would not take place. “He confirmed to me that there will be no execution,” al-Khansa said about her conversation with Ibrahim Najjar, Lebanon’s justice minister. She refused to go into details but said “matters are going in the right direction. We have faith in Saudi Arabia’s judicial system,” she added, noting that Sibat’s actions are not considered a crime in Lebanon.”

This development comes after ongoing international media attention to Sibat’s case, spurred in part by campaigns from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. But what may have ultimately saved Sibat’s life were behind the scenes negotiations between the Saudi and Lebanese governments, spurred by outrage in Lebanon over the situation.

“In Lebanon they have rallied behind Sabat, calling on politicians to take a stronger stance. On Thursday, protesters gathered in front of the Saudi embassy in Beirut where they reenacted a mock hanging to protest Sabat’s sentence.”[Saudis] come to our country and literally do whatever they want, thinking that Lebanon is theirs [thanks] to our dear politicians!!” one commenter wrote on a popular online political forum. “What kind of country is Lebanon…. They can’t step in to stop this injustice?” Lebanese Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar told Agence France-Presse that he had asked Saudi authorities to reconsider the severity of the sentence, adding that the same conviction in Lebanon is a misdemeanor punishable by a few months in jail. Though Sabat’s “mother should rest assured” for now, Najjar said…”

What happens next is unknown, but for the moment, we can take some solace in the fact that Sibat has been spared the death penalty, and hope that this means he will soon be reunited with his wife and family.

For my full coverage of this story, including the revelation that there’s a Pagan community in Lebanon, click here.