Gli altri tagliagole. Legalizzati.

In un’epoca in cui se non si decapita la propria vittima non si va in tv, è bene ricordare – come ha fatto nell’articolo che segue The Economist – che in Arabia Saudita la pena di morte viene eseguita normalmente tramite il taglio della testa.

Secondo rapporti non verificabili in maniera indipendente, in 18 giorni, lo sorso agosto, nel regno sono state decapitate 22 persone. Roba da far invidia allo Stato islamico. Che a Raqqa e altrove segue la stessa scuola sunnita dei Saud. 

(The Economist). The condemned may request a painkiller. Their end is not televised, and comes with a swift sword stroke from a skilled executioner rather than from hacking with a kitchen knife by an untutored brute. Otherwise there is not much difference between a death sentence in the jihadists’ “Islamic State” and in Saudi Arabia, a country seen as a crucial Western ally in the fight against IS. Nor, indeed, is there much difference between the two entities in other applications of a particularly merciless brand of sharia, or Islamic law, including public whippings and the right for victims of crime to claim eye-for-an-eye revenge.

Both follow Hanbali jurisprudence, the strictest of four schools of traditional Sunni Islamic law: when Egyptians chide someone for nitpicking, the expression is “Don’t be Hanbali”. Dissidents in Raqqa, the Syrian town that is IS’s proto-capital, say all 12 of the judges who now run its court system, adjudicating everything from property disputes to capital crimes, are Saudis. The group has also created a Saudi-style religious police, charged with rooting out vice and shooing the faithful to prayers. And as in IS-ruled zones, where churches and non-Sunni mosques have been blown up or converted to other uses, Saudi Arabia forbids non-Muslim religious practice. For instance, on September 5th Saudi police raided a house in Khafji, near the Kuwaiti border, and charged 27 Asian Christians with holding a church ceremony.

In recent months IS has carried out hundreds, possibly thousands, of executions, mostly by gunfire rather than beheading and typically without a trial of any kind. Saudi Arabia is far less trigger- or sword-happy. Still, in the space of just 18 days during the month of August, the kingdom beheaded some 22 people, according to human-rights advocates. The spate of killings was surprising not only because it was so sudden—the kingdom carried out a total of 79 executions last year—but also because many of those killed were convicted of relatively minor offences, such as smuggling hashish or, strangely, “sorcery”. In one case the defendant was determined to be mentally unsound, but lost his head anyway.

It was surprising, too, because the Saudi kingdom has in recent years gently relaxed some social strictures, and made efforts to rein in excesses by religious police. Some Saudi critics fear that the sudden upsurge represents a response by the religious establishment to the challenge from IS. Perhaps it is an attempt to prove to the most conservative Saudis that the kingdom remains a truer “Islamic” state than any other. Others see it as part of a broader policy to assert government control amid signs of growing discontent among the bored Saudi young, including a drift into unbelief (The Economist, 19 settembre 2014).