November 13, 2005.
RIYADH – A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to 40 months in jail and
750 lashes for “mocking religion” after he discussed the Bible and praised
Jews, a Saudi newspaper said on Sunday.
Al-Madina newspaper said secondary school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi will
be flogged in public after he was taken to court by his colleagues and students.
He was charged with promoting a “dubious ideology, mocking religion,
saying the Jews were right, discussing the gospel and preventing
students from leaving class to wash for prayer”, the newspaper said. It gave no
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, strictly upholds the austere Wahhabi
school of Islam and bases its constitution on the Koran and the sayings of
Prophet Mohammad. Public practice of any other religion is banned.
A U.S. State Department report criticised Saudi Arabia last week, saying
religious freedoms “are denied to all but those who adhere to the
state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam”. The newspaper said Harbi will appeal
against the verdict.