Ashraf Fayadh (Arabic: اشرف فياض, born 1980 in Saudi Arabia) is an artist and poet of Palestinian origin. He is the son of refugees from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip and lives in Saudi Arabia. He was active in the British-Arabian arts organization, Edge of Arabia, and organized exhibitions of Saudi art in Europe and Saudi Arabia. In November 2015, he was sentenced to death by beheading for apostasy. The Saudi court overturned the death sentence three months later, imposing an eight-year prison term with 800 lashes.
Conviction for apostasy
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After an argument with a fellow artist at a football game, Fayadh was detained by religious police in Abha, released on bail, then rearrested and tried in early 2014. He was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes. A Saudi appeals court returned the case to the lower court where a new judge was assigned to the case. On November 17, 2015, Fayadh was sentenced to death by beheading for apostasy. Evidence included several poems within his 2008 book Instructions Within, Twitter posts, and conversations Fayadh had in an Abha coffee shop, in which he was accused of having promoted atheism.
In December 2015, Fayadh became Honorary Member of German PEN, combined with a new protest note. In November 2015, the Berlin International Literature Festival published an appeal to support Ashraf Fayadh with a Worldwide Reading on January 14, 2016. Fayadh’s supporters believed he was punished by hardliners for posting a video online showing a man being lashed in public by Abha's religious police. Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, said Fayadh’s death sentence showed Saudi Arabia’s "complete intolerance of anyone who may not share government-mandated religious, political and social views."
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- "PEN verurteilt Todesstrafe gegen Dichter und PEN-Ehrenmitglied Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi-Arabien" [PEN condemns death sentence against poet and PEN honorary member Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi Arabia] (in German). 2 December 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
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- Batty, David; Mahmood, Mona (2 February 2016). "Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh's death sentence quashed by Saudi court". TheGuardian.com. Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
- "Ashraf Fayadh and Malini Subramaniam win the 2017 Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression". PEN International. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
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