Ashraf Fayadh

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Ashraf Fayadh (Arabic: أشرف فياض‎, born 1980 in Saudi Arabia) is an artist and poet[1] 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,[2] and organized exhibitions of Saudi art in Europe and Saudi Arabia. In November 2015, he was sentenced to death by beheading for apostasy.[3][4] The Saudi court overturned the death sentence three months later, imposing an eight-year prison term with 800 lashes.

Conviction for apostasy[edit]

After an argument at a café, Fayadh was detained by religious police in Abha, released on bail, then rearrested and tried in early 2014.[5] He was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes.[6] A Saudi appeals court returned the case to the lower court where a new judge was assigned to the case.[citation needed] On November 17, 2015, Fayadh was sentenced to death by beheading for apostasy.[4] 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.[7][8][9]

In December 2015, Fayadh became Honorary Member of German PEN, combined with a new protest note.[10] In November 2015, the Berlin International Literature Festival published an appeal to support Ashraf Fayadh with a Worldwide Reading on January 14, 2016.[11] 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."[2][9]

Following the international outcry, Fayadh's death sentence was commuted to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.[4] Fayadh was also required to repent through an announcement in official media.[12]

In January 2017, Fayadh shared the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression with Malini Subramaniam.[13]


  1. ^ Stoughton, India (28 March 2014). "Putting contemporary Saudi art in context". The Daily Star. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Batty, David (20 November 2015). "Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam". Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  3. ^ Hubbard, Ben (22 November 2015). "Saudi Artist's Death Sentence Follows a String of Harsh Punishments". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Fahim, Kareem (10 January 2018). "As Saudi Arabia relaxes its controls on culture and entertainment, artists dream — and worry". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
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  6. ^
  7. ^ "Poet's Death Sentence Reduced to Jail Time, Flogging". PEN Center USA. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  8. ^ McDowall, Angus (20 November 2015). "Saudi Arabian court sentences Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy". The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b McDowall, Angus; Evans, Dominic (20 November 2015). "Saudi court sentences Palestinian poet to death for apostasy: HRW". Riyadh. Reuters. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "Worldwide Reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh". Worldwide Reading. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  12. ^ Batty, David; Mahmood, Mona (2 February 2016). "Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh's death sentence quashed by Saudi court". Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  13. ^ "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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