A Saudi Arabian man’s tweets criticizing Islam and the prophet Muhammad will soon cost him his life, according to reports.
Ahmad Al Shamri, who is in his early 20s and from the city of Hafir Al Batin, had reportedly renounced Islam, became an atheist and posted a series of videos reflecting his views on social media, RT reported.
Shamri was arrested in 2014, faced trial and was sentenced to death for apostasy in February 2015, according to the website.
Al Shamri initially entered an insanity plea, claiming he has a mental disorder and was drunk and high when he made the comments, Hala Dosari, an advisory board member of the Human Rights Watch, told The Washington Post. But that plea was rejected this week.
Dosari, who had been looking into Al Shamri’s case from the beginning, told the paper that his trial focused heavily on Koranic law and little on any mental illness issues.
Saudi Arabia executed at least 154 people in 2016 — and was ranked the country with the third-highest number of executions during that time period, according to an Amnesty International report obtained by the site. Beheading and shooting are the usual execution methods, according to the report.
“The conservative religious folks have full control of the justice system,” Adam Coogle of the Human Rights Watch told the paper.
“Judges come from religious seminaries in Saudi Arabia. They see themselves as preservers of Saudi Arabia’s character as an Islamic state,” he added. “And they come down hard on people who step out of line.”
Twitter was split over the court’s decision, posting their comments under a trending hashtag which can be translated for Arabic to mean, “apostate from Hafar Al-Batin.”
“If you’re lowkey atheist that’s fine,” said one tweet, translated from Arabic. “But once you talk in public & criticize God or religion, then you shall be punished.”
“He didn’t do anything, he didn’t hurt anyone,and you’ll just kill him because he’s just wanted to be different???” said another.