A young Saudi man was sentenced to death for blasphemy and idol worshipping this morning in Jeddah, after confessing on social media that he had undergone a series of plastic surgeries “in order to look like Prophet Muhammad”.
23-year old Abdulaziz Sudairi from the city of Najran near the Yemeni border has been sentenced to an extremely violent death: suffer 200 lashes before being beheaded with a sword.
The young man, well-known as an Instagram model throughout the Arab peninsula, traveled to Israël several times over the last two years to undergo a total of 23 plastic surgeries to modify his chin, cheekbones, ears, eyelids, nose, even his skin color.
He had problems with Saudi authorities several times in the past, but a comment he posted on his Instagram account in June made him a target of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the Saudi Islamic police.
Mr. Sudairi posted a picture of himself after his last surgery, adding an extremely controversial comment:
“Only two or three more operations and I will be the living image of Muhammad. InshAllah.”
He was arrested three days later by the religious police and was imprisoned and interrogated for several weeks before the beginning of his trial.
According to the judgment of the Shariah court, by attempting to look like the Prophet, Abdulaziz Sudairi committed blasphemy, and idol worshipping, two crimes punishable by death according to Sharia law.
“It is anti-Islamic to represent the Prophet. It is an insult to the Prophet and to Islam to consider oneself worthy of looking like him. Such a sin deserves exemplary punishment.”
The Saudi legal system is known to be extremely harsh and to include a large array of corporal punishments and controversial execution methods.
Several violations of the Sharia law lead to sentences including amputations and floggings, or executions by beheading with a sword, stoning or even crucifixion.
Several Human Rights organizations have denounced Mr. Sudairi’s sentence as “unjustified and unnecessarily cruel” but such critics are rarely taken seriously by the Saudi government.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 people were executed last year in the kingdom according to Human Rights Watch.