Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. REUTERS PhotoAtheists will be defined as terrorists under new Saudi Arabian laws, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The new terrorism law and a series of related royal decrees create a legal framework that appears to criminalize virtually all dissident thought or expression as terrorism, the report said.
Regulations from the Interior Ministry cite “terrorism” provisions to include: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”
“Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at the HRW.
The set of laws have been largely brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis traveling to take part in the civil war in Syria and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
And King Abdullah issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalizes “participating in hostilities outside the kingdom” with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.