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Religious Leaders Call for Halt to Witchcraft Execution

We recently reported that a woman in Saudi Arabia is about to be executed for witchcraft. Rev. Phyllis Curott, who has been a guest on Dreamland radio, has called for a halt to that execution.

The Assembly of World Religious Leaders reports that twenty prominent religious leaders from a dozen faiths have united to call for the halt to the execution of a Saudi woman sentenced to death by beheading for the crime of "witchcraft." Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the United States, has declared that the conviction of Fawza Falih is a travesty of justice. Detainees in Saudi Arabia are commonly the victims of systematic and multiple violations of due process and fair trail rights including arbitrary arrest and torture. The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions on daily life in Saudi Arabia and cannot appear before a judge without a male representative. According to information posted on the Human Rights Watch website, human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are often ignored by United States officials. Saudi Arabia is an important ally in the "War on Terror" and it is estimated that the United States has armed the Saudis at an estimated cost of $7 billion dollars.

An international coalition of religious leaders, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Native Americans and other faith traditions, have written a letter with an attached petition, signed by more than 2,700 additional clergy and individuals, to King Abdullah bin Abd al?'Aziz Al Saud pleading for Fawza Falih?s release. Asking for mercy and compassion, the letter points out that , "In the seventh chapter of the Qur'an it is God who tells us 'My mercy encompasses all,' a mercy which bestows profound peace and infinite love. Is it not the principle of divine compassion that rules the heart in Islam?"

Rev. Phyllis Curott, J.D., member of the Assembly of World Religious Leaders, has called for a global interfaith effort saying: "Violence against women can never be justified by religion. As religious leaders of most of the world's faiths? including Muslims?we are standing together to renounce this heinous execution and to urge the King to adhere to universal principles of human rights by releasing Fawza Falih immediately."

Rabbi Michael Learner, Editor of Tikkun Magazine spoke out in support of Fawza's release saying, "Ancient prejudices against witches are today being manipulated into a general assault against women's autonomy in the repressive Saudi Arabian society that misuses Islam to justify its patriarchal assumptions. Just as we need to challenge every form of racism and hatred, including the misuse of these kinds of incidents to throw dirt on the entire Muslim population of the world, so we need to ask the people of the world to say unequivocally to the crude dictators who run Saudi Arabia that they must stop this outrage of contemporary witch-burning once and for all."

Mike Mohamed Ghouse, President of the World Muslim Congress was disturbed that such a trivial item has consumed international attention. "It should not have even taken up the judicial time. Fawza Falih is a human being like every one else and does not possess any such super-natural powers to affect the lives of other human beings, let alone cause one to be impotent. As Muslims, we believe that no one but God has such powers and he alone is the master of the Day of Judgment. I appeal to His Excellency King Abdullah to put an end to this by releasing Fawza Falih and offer her state protection from any public harassment."

To read and sign the petition to save Fawza Falih's life,click here. The letter will be delivered to the Saudi ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States. A campaign is also underway by US citizens urging their Senators to pressure the State Department to negotiate for Fawza Falih's release.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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