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Patti Wigington

Saudi Woman Executed for Witchcraft

By December 15, 2011

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ABC News reports that a Saudi woman has been beheaded for "practicing witchcraft and sorcery," according to the Saudi Interior Ministry. The Arab newspaper al Hayat says that authorities who searched Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar's home found books on witchcraft and a number of glass bottles "full of an unknown liquid used for sorcery."

Interestingly, according to Saudi law, "witchcraft and sorcery" are not specifically defined as crimes. Phillip Luther of Amnesty International says that such charges are often used as a way for the government to silence those who might be exercising freedom of speech.

One thing that's important to note is that in many Middle Eastern countries, "witchcraft" is not viewed the same as the way Neopagans in the western world see it. It's typically considered "low magic," and is perceived as harmful magical practice involving the invoking of spirits or djinn and the sale of curses and spells.

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December 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm
(1) Paul says:

My opinion: I believe it is one of those RULE-OF-THUMB methods to keep Saudi woman in check! Just a display of male dominance, as this is their culture there…I could be wrong.

December 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm
(2) Rebecca says:

@Paul…I agree with you. I don’t think there’s any doubt the reason.

December 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm
(3) Patrick says:

Not sure that’s the case Paul. They publicly beheaded a Sudanese man on the same charge earlier this year. As chilling as these events are they should not be a surprise. The “Holy Book” of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians calls for their execution:

Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (KJV)

Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (KJV)

Given the mindset and behaviour of all three faiths regarding ‘witchcraft’, it is understandable that until recently, most pagans were secretive about their beliefs.

December 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm
(4) Buddhagan says:

This is just sad. @Patrick, it’s amazing how some things in the bible get taken literally. And unfortunately, because of a mistranslation, witches get the death penalty.

December 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm
(5) Patrick says:

@buddhagen I understand that some people may take words literally, whereas others might might not, but in the two instances I cited;

-Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (KJV)

-Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (KJV)

I am not sure there is much room for interpretation here. To me they are pretty explicit and unambiguous.

Regarding translations; as noted, these are King James version. Reading various other versions gives you pretty much the same message.

I AM saying that the three religions have pretty hostile directives about how to deal with witches, and a very bloody history of putting those directives into practice, including on Monday, when a woman had her head chopped off for being a witch.

December 18, 2011 at 6:08 am
(6) Max says:

I wondered how the wiccan community was taking action after the beheading of a witch in Saudi Arabia. Now I know… The pathetic commentary basically defends the Saudis as executing a mere “low magician”, and then idiotic comments attempt to drag Jews and Christians into in order to blur the distinctions between the unreformed Koran/Muslim world and the civilized world. It appears that wiccans are under a politically correct spell of sheepishness and self-imposed ignorance.

December 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm
(7) paganwiccan says:

Max (6), feel free to point out to me where anyone has defended the actions of the Saudi government for this atrocity.

Go ahead, we’ll wait while you go fetch something that backs up your statement.


December 23, 2011 at 3:52 am
(8) Max says:

It’s your total lack of outrage at people who beheaded a witch, and your final paragraph which lets the Saudis off as having any responsibility to live in the modern world, when you state “it’s important to note” the Saudis are only viewing the witch as “low” and engaged in harmful practices. In other words, according to their worldview, which is just as valid as ours, who can blame them for executing her, right? That’s the tone you set. If it’s unintended, then rectify it.

December 23, 2011 at 8:16 am
(9) LeylandCypress says:

In Exodus 22:18, the term translated as witch is Mkhasepha. It means one who malevently uses spoken curses to hurt people.

Galatians 5:19- the word here is pharmakia which means poisoner.

I’m sorry I’m not more aware of the Quoran, nor the specific law this woman is reported to have broken. If she caused no harm to anyone, she should not have been executed.

I don’t believe there is any legal way to change the laws of another country though. I do suspect it was politically motivated though. Say if she gave someone an herb for pain and the doctors felt undermined, or she wanted (gasp!) equal rights for women.

December 23, 2011 at 9:54 am
(10) Rev Aradia LeCrone says:

While I AM morally outraged by the actions in today’s society of what happened to this woman in Saudi Arabia there was not enough information to determine whether this woman actually WAS a Witch or not. It seems that just as in the Burning Times a woman was put to death for allegedly being a Witch. And yes, this is terrible and sad that SOME countries haven’t advanced past this point.

What we have to do is make certain that WE HAVE advanced to the point where “Burning Times – NEVER AGAIN”. At least in THIS country.

So Mote It Be

December 23, 2011 at 10:36 am
(11) star says:

Murder is murder is murder…no matter what religion you are.

December 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm
(12) Joy says:

It is stories like this one that make me so grateful for the wonderful country we live in. I will never know what it is like to be fearful of being who I am because the government may find out and torture or execute me. Our country may not be perfect – there is certainly room for improvement – but there is no other country on earth that guarantees life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness, religious and polititcal rights and freedoms, equality for all – despite race, religion, gender, etc. I thank the Goddess for the U.S.A. and ask Her to continue to bless this country and Her people. And I hope and pray that democracy and freedom find their way into the hearts and the countries around the world where atrocities against citizens are routine and acceptable.
It seems to be fashionable to complain and criticize our country. But I’ll bet if all the whiners had to spend a little time in a third-world country, a communist country, or a middle-eastern country like the one this poor woman lived in, those whiners would change their attitude about the U.S. real quick.

December 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm
(13) paganwiccan says:

Max (8): You said:

“It’s your total lack of outrage at people who beheaded a witch”

Oh, on the contrary, I’m outraged by things that people to do each other every day in every part of the world, including my own town. However, we don’t know that this person was a witch, but even if she was, that doesn’t make her somehow MORE worthy of outrage than all the other people in the world who are brutalized on a daily basis.

You also said:

“your final paragraph which lets the Saudis off as having any responsibility to live in the modern world, when you state “it’s important to note” the Saudis are only viewing the witch as “low” and engaged in harmful practices.”

No, I make that statement not to let anyone off, but to clarify that other parts of the world do not view witchcraft in the same way that modern NeoPagans do – in other words, exactly what I said above. Because otherwise, every time I post a story like this, I get comments from readers upset about the poor Saudi Wiccans who are being persecuted, which is completely inaccurate.

You also said:

“In other words, according to their worldview, which is just as valid as ours, who can blame them for executing her, right? That’s the tone you set. If it’s unintended, then rectify it.”

You’re putting words in my mouth that I didn’t say. I said what I meant. If you’re misunderstanding me – and you seem to be the only one who is – after I’ve clarified, then I’m not sure how much more specific I can be for you.


December 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm
(14) Jeff says:

This by all means is a very tragic incident. After traveling in many different parts of the world, laws sometimes seem to be very barbaric. Being beheaded for ones spiritual beliefs is truly that. I have seen a child of no more than 8 or 9 years old gunned down not 10 feet in front of me by the local police for simple shoplifting. In one middle eastern country the punishment for theft results in the individuals hand that they eat with be chopped off. The reasoning behind this is that if you eat with the right hand, they chop it off, leaving your left hand which would generally be used for lets say personal business, therefore the individual would then starve to death because they will not eat with that hand. Barbaric, Yes Trying to change the laws in foreign countries is a moot point. Blaming other religious belief systems is not always a valid way to make a point. We need to realize that the laws in most third world countries are basically written in stone, unlike in this country where the laws are twisted and perverted depending on your wealth and public status.

As for those of us in the Pagan Community we must be united to ensure that our freedoms are not taken from us, as there are many organizations that would try. Maybe, just maybe, becoming more vocal as a united front, we can send a message strong enough through out the world that WE HAVE THE RIGHT AS THINKING BEINGS TO CHOOSE OUR SPIRITUAL PATHS.

Live Free and Blessed Be!

December 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm
(15) Fourge says:

Damn, Jeff. . . . I don’t think I could have said it better myself : )

December 24, 2011 at 12:50 am
(16) Cheryl says:

Jeff, I agree with you also. For that Saudi woman, we can say a prayer for her and her family. Peace and Blessings.

December 24, 2011 at 8:32 am
(17) Angela says:

That poor woman! It seems that the Burning Times have not left us, but found new victims. Horned One and Lady Moon bless the innocent. I hope that one day everyone will have all the rights they should.

December 25, 2011 at 7:15 am
(18) john says:

we may have advanced technology wise, spiritually, we are as in the dark ages as never before..religion is an amazing tool of suppression, who would not be afraid of a old testament god, whose power is wielded by men..for gain and power.
Saudi men are misogynists..infact seems to me..any country that treats women so, are all misogynistic. all based on original sin..and we are all sinners at birth..what utter mind numbing rubbish..i once got into religion and i was afraid for my life..i became so brain washed that god would smite me down, i did not sleep for month’s. i was afraid to do any thing..i got out, grew up, and taught my self how it works. Fear. plain and simple..follow my god or die. no thanks..2000 years or religious wars have cost 300.000.000 people their lives..men,women, and dare i say, god help us, children.. god of love..compassion..dont make me laugh..oh sorry..i already am…
21st century christmas day..and still we are killing each other..religion..what is it good for…

December 25, 2011 at 8:37 am
(19) Max says:

Sure wouldn’t want you as an advocate for my team. By the logic of your first paragraph in your last reply, if your family was starving to death, I guess you wouldn’t find it any more important to get them food than any other starving person in the world. Tell me, would it be “important to note” that nazis have a different view of human worth than non-nazis, in a story of a recent hate crime? Just curious, what’s your take on you commenter attempting to drag Jews and Christians into this beheading committed by Saudi Muslims? Are all religions the same, as your commenter implies? If so, why are you wiccan? Isn’t your commenter just a bigot who is anxious to smooth out the sharp distinctions between religions he doesn’t like? I will say, I respect you for not deleting my comments, which shows you are at least interested in other points of view.

December 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm
(20) paganwiccan says:

Max (19), I seriously think you’re deliberately looking for something to pick at nits about. Again, you’re taking what I have said and saying that what I really meant to say was something else. I assure you, that’s not the case. I’m sorry if I haven’t expressed my outrage to your satisfaction, but as I said, you seem to be the only one who’s having trouble understanding my points.

I’m not going to sit here and debate with you over arguments that are of your own creation, and not mine.


December 26, 2011 at 10:03 am
(21) Max says:

No need to debate. I am not very religious, but the daily assault on non-Muslims around the world I find offensive and evil, and must be ended. I thought I may find a “Wiccan Defense League” outraged by this beheading and talk of a boycott at least. I realize this witch may have little in common with the Celtic variety of witchcraft which seems predominant in Wiccan, but still…. Any way, all I found here was an “In other news…” story about a witch being murdered by a Muslim government, some typing about putting it “in context”, and some reader comments attempting to cast all monotheistic religions as equal, ignoring the significant philosophical and empirical differences in original texts, major reforms (Jewish Enlightenment, Protestant Reformation, Counter Reformation, Vatican II, etc.) that make it an absurd equation.

December 26, 2011 at 11:51 am
(22) anna says:

very interesting coments but the reality is that no amount of complaning will help I know i been there you take your chances in how you choose to live or die for your faith. All you can hope to do is change the way your family or freands feel about you. If get arrested you know they will beat you and torcher you and if you lauky you will servive and still stay a wich:)

December 27, 2011 at 10:48 am
(23) Herbert Stewart says:

Max(21) RE: an absurd equation

I find Your ‘Straw-Man’ annoying, but I don’t see the point in helping You beat on Him/It.

December 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm
(24) Max says:

First, you’ve already attempted to beat on me, simply by commenting. Strawman? Hardly. If all you are capable of is being annoyed without the ability to clarify why, then you are easily confused and emotional in all your intellectual pursuits.

December 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm
(25) Herbert Stewart says:

Herb comment = attempt to beat up on Max

Max comment = clarification

I guess I am just too emotional to understand the new math…. LOL!

December 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm
(26) Max says:

I think you’ve been smoking your name a bit too much. Lay off the pipe and start to use your mind instead of displaying your poor math skills and defensive laughter. Frankly, your last post didn’t even make sense enough to attack it.
BTW, since this is a pagan site, and Santa is somewhat the pagan belief, it might interest you all that the Texas Santa who killed his family on Christmas day was actually a Muslim who was angry at his Westernized family, especially his daughter for dating a non-Muslim, so was duty-bound to honor kill, but the press didn’t want to tell us that. Instead, it focused on the pagan Santa suit, which was only used as a ploy to fool the family. Any comments, i.e., explaining away his actions, tarring other religions, etc?

December 29, 2011 at 12:54 am
(27) Mary Blood says:


The reason it’s inappropriate to band together in outrage and protest over such a thing as this, as sad as it is, is that the woman quite possibly wasn’t even a witch of any kind. There’s just no way to know for sure. One possibility is that she was simply being silenced with a bogus charge. Another, less likely, possibility is that she was in fact what they would call a “witch,” which doesn’t necessarily equate with what we practice and call “witchcraft.” She was almost certainly not a Pagan or Wiccan practitioner. I believe that was what was meant by the quote beginning with “it’s important to note…” She simply felt that it was an important fact for us to note that she was not being executed for practicing Wicca or Paganism as we know it – she was “allegedly” executed for something more specific – casting malevolent spells.

However, as a human being who was most probably wrongly executed for a bogus charge, this is a horrible crime against humanity, which I’m sure most of us ARE in fact appropriately outraged against, as are many people who are NOT of the Pagan/Wiccan faith.

December 29, 2011 at 1:46 am
(28) Max says:

Thanks for the reply. The woman was not a Wiccan, but she was most certainly a small-p pagan. I’m assuming there was a reason to post the article here in the first place…
The reason the Saudis don’t have a specific law against witchcraft is that the Saudis don’t have a codified system of laws as we know it. The law is derived directly from Islamic texts–Koran, Hadith, Sira.
Don’t kid yourself into believing she was beheaded to silence her opinion. A decade after 9/11, that is a wantonly uninformed opinion about Islam and derives, aside from people simply miming it, from an inner need of many Wiccans to maintain Christianity as the focus of their ire (since many Wiccans are hostile post-Christians), and anything that rocks that belief is subliminated. There is a reason why this site has an article spefically addressing why some Pagans hate Christianity (its a good, fair article, btw).
The Saudis are the gatekeepers to Mecca, They are nothing if not scrupulous about ensuring Sharia law is adhered to, and don’t take execution lightly. There are no Saudi Wiccans for a reason…or Christians or Buddhist, for that matter. Go ahead, try to find one. Secret pseudonyms don’t count. The Saudis know Islam, and practice it. If you are Wiccan, you too would be executed in Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran, Somalia, Yeman, etc., and likely jailed or “disappeared” in the other 50 Islamic states.

January 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm
(29) Haven says:

@Patrick Actually “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” was a purposeful mistranslation on part of some priests during the witch-hunting days. The actual meaning of the phrase is “Thou shalf not suffer a poisoner to live.” That’s the problem with Latin being so ambiguous sometimes.

January 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm
(30) Aryn says:

Yeah patrick brought these exerpts from the bible to my attention:

Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (KJV)

-Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (KJV)

I just want to say. . . YES love thy neighbor as ye stone them to death! and practice hypocrisy till ye die so thouest may goest to Hell and burn in eternal damnation for beingest a hypocrit. Hypocrits go to hell, and people who twist the words of the bible also goeth to hell. Remember bible beaters- christianity brought about the crusades, the salem witch trials, WW2 (brought about by a powerful, insane christian), and now mass child molesting cases around the globe ( Can I get an Amen!!!). How dare you treat us in this manner? You clearly haven’t the intelligence to grasp morality, let alone the writings in your own holy books, it is a fool who believes everything and asks no questions, and it is a fool who believes in nothing and only asks questions. Maybe if you asked yourself if your holy writings were truly ethical you’d stop your misguided deeds.

January 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm
(31) Aryn says:

Max (28),
you say that many pagans are post-christians who bear a grudge against their previous religion as though it’s an insult. Though we don’t all have the same opinions, though we all have our own wounds which we must heal on our own, we must all maintain respect for one anothers opinions and beliefs, it is because we are pagans of some form or another, that we are able to overlook our differences and treat each other with “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust”. I admit that I’m a post-christian, and though the years have passed since my conversion, my wounds have indeed left ugly scars, that leave me weary of the religion that I have left behind- I left it because women are second class citizens according to the bible, and I refused to be treated like less of a human being for a minute longer. My religion saved me, and so when a downtrod pagan comes my way, I want to help them, to keep them safe from the storm raging without, as well as within. Remember, because you are an individual, you have every right to feel as you do, but don’t forget, we are your pagan brothers and your pagan sisters, we respect your opinion, so please, respect ours in return.

January 6, 2012 at 7:33 am
(32) Max says:

You prove a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when possessed by a fool.
I’m not advocating Christianity. The story is about a Muslim government beheading a women. Do you have 1/10 the rage about actual daily mass murders occurring at the hands of Muslims that you do about your silly sob stories of “daddy didn’t love me” and “my church was full of hypocrites” BS? If you think your fundy church was harsh towards women, wait till you learn about Islam. At least you could leave it without a fatwa from the imam that you must be killed as an apostate.
As far as your knowledge, or lack thereof, the Crusades were a belated reaction to Islamic aggression in the Middle East and its continuous attacks on the Orthodox church, whose head wrote a desperate letter the Pope begging for help.
The Salem witch trials killed fewer than a typical Baghdad Al Qaeda bombing, and it was regretting greatly in Salem once cooler heads took over. The child molesting trials are a sign of improvement in the Catholic church, unlike the Islamic madrassas, which are vastly more of rapatoriums than anything like what happened in the rectors.
And finally, your most disgusting insinuation that Hitler was Christian, when in fact, the Nazis were anti-Christian and actually celebrated Nordic pagan rites, smearing pagans by association.

No one on this page besides myself said anything about the problem Muslims have with pagans, but several tried to gratuitously smear Christians, even though the story is about a Muslim country that will kill its own citizens if they convert to either Christianity or paganism. That says a lot about your lack of awareness and your misdirected hostilities.

January 8, 2012 at 5:28 am
(33) Max says:

Aryn, et al,

I must say its breathtaking that someone named Aryn would slur Christians by saying Hitler was Christian. Talk about projection! You and Hitler are birds of a feather–he also was post-Christian, hated Christianity (Hitler also admired Islam, btw), practiced pseudo-Nordic paganism, and thought highly of the word “Aryan”.

BTW, The Crusades were over 800 years ago, and again, were a reaction to Islamic aggression which conquered previously Christian North Africa and the Middle East and was threatening Europe. The Salem witch trials occurred over 300 years ago, and killed fewer than the Islamist massacre of Christians in Nigeria that occurred yesterday, among others.

So, please explain to me why you would attack Christians in an article about a Muslim government beheading a witch and commented on by a secular person who takes issue with the post commentary?

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