Saudi Arabia: Blogger's second lashing postponed; woman publicly beheaded in Mecca

(Photo: Reuters)

A Burmese woman was decapitated in public in Islam's holiest city Monday.

Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, who was sentenced to death for the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter, was dragged through the streets of Mecca and pinned down by four police officers as she was struck three times by the sword, the Independent reports.

The video of the beheading, formerly posted on YouTube but has been taken down due to its policy on "shocking and disgusting content," showed that during the execution, Basim screamed, "I did not kill. I did not kill."

In response to those condemning the capital punishment meted out by Saudi Arabia, which has already carried out seven executions in the first two weeks of 2015, the Saudi Ministry of the Interior defended the sentence, saying in a statement that the beheading was justified due to the severity of the slain woman's crime.

Aside from Basim's execution, another case that has drawn attention to Saudi Arabia's human rights record is Raif Badawi's sentence.

The blogger, to receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks and spend 10 years in prison for supposedly insulting Islam on the website Free Saudi Liberals, was scheduled to be publicly flogged for the second time on Friday. The flogging was postponed however due to medical reasons.

Badawi, who almost faced the death penalty after being accused of apostasy, received his first 50 lashes on January 9 outside the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

The liberal writer's lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, was also sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for "undermining the regime and officials," "inciting public opinion" and "insulting the judiciary."

Amnesty International has written a petition calling for Badawi's release.

"Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia," Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said.

"The authorities seem determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists."

According to Amnesty International, flogging, beheading, and other forms of corporal punishment are against international law, which forbids "torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."