Nicholas Kristof: Sentenced to Be Crucified

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Ali al-Nimr
Ali al-Nimr Photo courtesy Reprieve

Sentenced to be Crucified

My Thursday column starts with the story of a young man whom Saudi Arabia has sentenced to be beheaded and crucified after he participated in anti-government protests at age 17. And, yes, you read that right. More broadly, my column argues that the United States has been too deferential as our ally, Saudi Arabia, legitimizes oppression and fundamentalism throughout the Islamic world. Read!
Frankly, I come to this partly because I’ve often defended Islam from its over-the-top critics. It seems to me incumbent on people like me in turn to speak out when an ally in effect promotes extremism. And I’m hoping that shining a light on this young man — and on another who faces 1,000 lashes for urging modernization — just might embarrass the government enough that it will show a hint of mercy.
Speaking of repressive Gulf states, you won’t see me reporting any time soon from Bahrain. I was supposed to attend a conference there soon, but Bahrain just rejected me for a visa. The royal family there has been unhappy with me ever since I reported from the scene on the brutal 2011 crackdown on peaceful demonstrators; then on a follow-up visit I was detained by police while covering protests. Bahrain has Formula One auto races, so maybe I’ll try to get in as a race car driver?
I’m sure that readers, after learning about the crucifixion and lashing, will ask what they can do. If you’re President Obama, please call King Salman. Otherwise, here’s a petition for Ali al-Nimr, who faces crucifixion, and here’s a link to a number of petitions for Raif Badawi, who faces 1,000 lashes. Incidentally, we also translated today’s column into Arabic, in hopes that it can start a broader conversation in the Arab world. This translation is an experiment, and if it gets traction we may do this for other columns in the future.
My win-a-trip winner, Austin Meyer, has a powerful piece about what it’s like to meet a Nepali girl who had been trafficked to brothels in India — and why human trafficking should be a top priority.
If you've always wanted to watch my PBS TV documentary "Half the Sky," then hurry up: It's on Netflix but is coming down on Nov. 1. So you have until Saturday to see it on Netflix! Then the sky clouds over!
And now let’s see if we can make outrage about Saudi Arabia’s planned crucifixion of a teenager spread far and wide — and maybe save his life. Read! And spread the word. »
 
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