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Outrage over Saudi death sentence for poet on blasphemy charges


(CNN) Hundreds of writers around the world have joined human rights groups in urging Saudi Arabia to release a poet who faces a death sentence on charges of apostasy for his poetry.

Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh, 32, was sentenced to death by a court in the southwestern Saudi city of Abha this month on a series of blasphemy charges, according to Human Rights Watch, which viewed the trial documents.

The charges included insulting the “Divine Self” and the Prophet Mohammed, mocking the Quran and spreading atheism.

His sister, Raeda Fayadh, appealed to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to grant clemency to her brother in an interview Monday with CNN.

She said her brother had done nothing wrong, having been falsely accused by a man with a personal animosity toward him.

There was nothing blasphemous in her his writings, she said, and those who had accused him were damaging the image of Saudi Arabia, she said.

“He wrote in words that stupid people misunderstood,” she said.

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