No Quarter for the Sorcerers

Kitty casts a spell on you, sir

One of the things I sit around, worrying about, is whether or not Saudi Arabia is going easy on sorcerers:

A Lebanese man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for sorcery has been given a temporary reprieve, his lawyer says.

Ali Sabat’s execution was scheduled for Friday but his lawyer, May el-Khansa, told the BBC she had been assured by a Lebanese minister it would not happen.

Mr Sabat, who is in his 40s, was the host of a satellite TV programme in which he predicted the future.

He was arrested by religious police while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2008 and convicted of sorcery.

What kind of a mind bases a legal decision on sorcery? Is this where I point out that, yes, science is dead, my friends. Science is dead. It’s 2010 and sorcery can get you executed in a country on the face of this planet. Is that something I shouldn’t mock or make fun of? Am I being intolerant if I refuse to believe that this mindset is backwards and dangerous? Or should I just accept the fact that people should be free to perpetrate ignorance and superstition throughout whatever country they’re from?

Human rights groups have accused the Saudis of “sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police”.

An Egyptian working as a pharmacist in Saudi Arabia was executed in 2007 after having been found guilty of using sorcery to try to separate a married couple.

There is no legal definition of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia, but horoscopes and fortune telling are condemned as un-Islamic.

Nevertheless, there is still a big thirst for such services in a country where widespread superstition survives under the surface of strict religious orthodoxy, the BBC’s Sebastian Usher says.

Well, you cannot say that the Saudis aren’t being reasonable, now can you? Let’s not forget that this is a country that, rumor has it, probably has a nuclear weapon. Remind me not to go there, and remind me to keep an eye out for the religious police and their war on sorcery.

It’s 2010, right? Am I alone in thinking that…it’s 2010, for crying out loud. What the hell is going on in this world?