Fayadh is being sentenced to death after had been jailed for more than 22 months in the Saudi city Abha without clear legal charges beyond “insulting the Godly self” and having “ideas that do not suit the Saudi society.” These charges are based on the complaint of a reader’s interpretation of Fayadh's 2008 poetry collection titled, Instructions Within. This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have arrested Ashraf Fayadh. The poet was detained before after a Saudi citizen filed a complaint with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice accusing Fayadh of having “misguided and misguiding thoughts.” Fayadh was bailed out of jail at the time, only to get arrested again. According to sources close to Fayadh, the poet has been denied both visitation and legal representation rights.We condemn these acts of intimidation targeting Ashraf Fayadh as part of a wider campaign inciting hate against writers and using Islam to justify oppression and to crush free speech. We express our solidarity with Fayadh, hoping to increase support for the poet as well as pressure to release him. Our efforts should come together to ensure the proliferation of free speech and personal freedoms. We specifically call on Saudi intellectuals to express solidarity with Fayadh against Takfiris’ intimidation practices meant to silence poets, writers, and artists like him.Let the flag of creativity fly free and remain innovative.Remaining silent towards Fayadh’s detention is an insult to knowledge, literature, culture, and thought as well as to freedom and human rights.
Posted: 18 November 2015 (Updated: 30 January 2017)