The Burning Times Still Smolder in 21st Century Saudi Arabia
Article ID: 12420
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,492
Times Read: 11,754
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Author: Caroline Kenner [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 2nd. 2008
Times Viewed: 11,754
Visualize yourself a Witch back in the Burning Times, in medieval or Renaissance Europe. You have been detained without due process, you have been tortured to extract a confession, and you have been convicted without the benefit of a jury of your peers. You are under sentence of death, waiting for your execution for the crime of Witchcraft.
While this horrific scenario is long past in the West, there are places in the world where it is happening right now: today, in 21st century Saudi Arabia, Fawza Falih is in Quraiyat Prison waiting to be executed for the crime of Witchcraft. The BBC reports "The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005, and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read. Among her accusers was a man who claimed she made him impotent." Fawza Falih has been convicted, is at the end of her appeal process and has been sentenced to death by beheading for being a Witch.
Rev. Phyllis Curott, Wiccan author, attorney, founding priestess of the Temple of Ara, and member of the Assembly of World Religious Leaders, is spearheading an international multi-faith effort to save Fawza Falih's life. She has amassed an impressive coalition of religious leaders from many faith traditions, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans and Native Americans, who have endorsed an online petition letter to His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abd al-'Aziz Al Saud asking that Fawza Falih's life be spared.
Rev. Curott is calling for global interfaith protest, saying: "I had to do something. She's been persecuted by religious police, beaten and tortured; she's been sitting in a horrible prison for three years waiting to die. I was in tears thinking about her, and then I got so angry all I could think was that we have to save her. I began writing religious leaders I've met doing Interfaith work over the years. And a week later, clergy, theologians, rabbis, imams, priests and priestesses, teachers from most of the world's faiths – including Muslims – and people from all over the world are standing together to denounce this shameful execution. We are calling on the King to respect universal principles of human rights by releasing Fawza Falih immediately."
Currently, most people killed around the world for practicing Witchcraft are victims of mob violence. These mob killings of so-called Witches are fairly common in African countries and on the Indian subcontinent. We in the West have no ability to protect people from mob violence abroad. But Fawza Falih was arrested for practicing Witchcraft by the Saudi religious police, she was tried in what passes for a court of law in Saudi Arabia, and even filed appeals for clemency after she was convicted.
Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the United States, has called the conviction of Fawza Falih a travesty of justice. Detainees in Saudi Arabia are commonly subject to violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture. The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions in their daily lives, and cannot appear before a judge without a male representative.
Tragically United States officials all too often ignore human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is an important ally in the "War on Terror". Human Rights Watch estimates that the United States has armed the Saudis at an estimated cost of $7 billion U.S. dollars.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, is speaking out in support of Fawza's release: "Ancient prejudices against Witches are today being manipulated into a general assault against women's autonomy in the repressive Saudi Arabian society that misuses Islam to justify its patriarchal assumptions. Just as we need to challenge every form of racism and hatred, including the misuse of these kinds of incidents to throw dirt on the entire Muslim population of the world, so too we need to ask the people of the world to say unequivocally to the crude dictators who run Saudi Arabia that they must stop this outrage of contemporary Witch-burning once and for all."
Mike Mohamed Ghouse, President of the World Muslim Congress, is disturbed by the potential negative public opinion towards Islam internationally. "I appeal to His Excellency King Abdullah to put an end to this by releasing Fawza Falih and offering her state protection from any public harassment. (This issue) should not have even taken up judicial time."
Rev. Curott is asking people from all faith traditions or none to sign the Internet petition letter to be given to the Saudi Arabian ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States. At this point, the petition has over 6,100 signatures from all over the world, and increasing. Rev. Curott believes: "Our own community must rally to Fawza's support. This petition also shows that people of all faith traditions can work together, because we are united by our common humanity and compassion."
To read and sign the petition to save Fawza Falih's life, please go to:
Rev. Curott is also asking U.S. citizens to write to their senators about Fawza Falih's plight, and urge the State Department to negotiate with the Saudis for her release. It is particularly useful to contact the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (See sidebar and the list following this article for links..) Here is a sample letter you can cut and paste into the email contact form on your senator's website, if you choose. It is even better if you compose your own letter.
Dear Senator XXX,
I am writing to express my concern about Fawza Falih, a woman whose universal human rights are being violated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Fawza Falih was beaten before her confession, she was denied due process during her trial, she has exhausted her appeals, and is awaiting execution by beheading for the crime of Witchcraft.
The Saudi Arabians are allies of the United States, and receive immense amounts of financial assistance from us. I believe it is morally and ethically wrong to give the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia preferential treatment and financial assistance until they improve their human rights record.
Furthermore, it is an international embarrassment that anyone is being convicted of Witchcraft in the 21st century.
Please contact the Department of State and request that they negotiate for Fawza Falih's immediate pardon and release from custody.
By the power of the Founding Fathers and Mothers, we in America have freedom of conscience and freedom of religious practice. It is too easy for us to become complacent about the freedoms we enjoy, and to forget the tyranny many citizens around the world endure. If one person on Mother Earth still lingers in prison awaiting execution for Witchcraft, we who call ourselves Witches and Pagans should not rest until we have secured their pardon and release.
In honor and remembrance of those who died during Europe's Burning Times, please sign the petition, and write to your senator, to protest Fawza Falih's execution for Witchcraft. So mote it be!
Contact The Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE)
Richard G. Lugar (R-IL)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Russell Feingold (D-WI)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Bill Nelson (R-FL)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
John Sununu (R-NH)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Author's Profile: To learn more about Caroline Kenner - Click HERE
Bio: Caroline Kenner is a Washington Witchdoctor, a Witch skilled in the art of media advocacy. Caroline worked for more than twenty years in media relations for groups on the Left, with a client list comprised of unions, feminist, long term care, and environmental non-profit organizations, as well as consulting for the Clinton White House during their efforts to reform the healthcare system. She has also worked for National Public Radio on their syndicated Classical music show, Performance Today.
Caroline is a longtime media spokesperson for the Washington, DC and Baltimore Pagan community. She has spent years working to dispel the many misconceptions in the public mind about Paganism and Witchcraft.
Caroline currently works as a shamanic healer, having trained for twelve years with Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. She is initiated into diverse magical traditions, including The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a mid-Atlantic 501(c)(3) organization with multiple covens, and the magical family of internationally renowned Anglo-Irish Witches Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. Caroline has also received many initiatory ceremonies within La Regla de Ocha de Lukumi, often known as Cuban Santeria. She is on the board of directors of the Sacred Space Foundation, which produces the Sacred Space Conference.
Caroline holds an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College in Anthropology, and an M.S. from Boston University in Communications. See Caroline's website at www.mythkenner.com
Other Articles: Caroline Kenner has posted 25 additional articles- View them?
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