News ID: 113784
Publish Date : 08 April 2023 - 22:30

Saudi News Agency Story Edits Date of Execution to Before Ramadan

RIYADH (Middle East Eye) – Saudi Arabia’s official news agency appears to have changed an announcement about a controversial Ramadan execution to suggest it took place before the start of the holy month.
On 30 March, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Khaled al-Harbi, a Saudi man convicted of murder, had been executed in Medina “on Tuesday”.
The announcement garnered international headlines, with one rights group saying that Harbi’s execution was the first to occur during the Muslim holy month since 2009, if not the first time ever.
SPA announcements are often the only official information released about executions in Saudi Arabia and are typically made one or two days after an execution. Harbi was therefore presumed to have been executed on Tuesday 28 March.
But the SPA announcement now reports that Harbi was executed “on Tuesday, Shaaban 29 1444 AH”, the Islamic calendar date for 21 March, and the day before Ramadan began.
“Saudi Arabia for years now has been trying to polish its image on the international stage,” said Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR).
“They changed the statement because it will harm the image that Saudi tries to project as a country of reform and moving forward.”
Middle East Eye has asked the Saudi foreign ministry for comment.
In Saudi Arabia, the month of Ramadan, which celebrates peace and mercy, has traditionally been a time when authorities pause executions.