Saudi Arabia Beheadings May Bow to Firing Squads Over Lack of Swordsmen

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 04:10 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Due to a lack of authorized swordsmen, Saudi Arabia is considering using firing squads to carry out state-sanctioned executions as an alternative to the country's tradition of public beheading.

The kingdom's regional princes, who govern individual territories within the nation, claim firing squads are necessary "because of the scarcity of swordsmen and their unavailability in a number of regions," officials told Saudi newspapers on Sunday.

The statement, issued by an inter-ministerial committee, said that due to the shortage of authorized swordsman, the executioners were so busy travelling between regions that they often arrived late to beheadings, "which caused security confusion," and resulted in "rumors spreading through modern technology."

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So far, in 2013, Saudi Arabia has beheaded 15 individuals. The kingdom publicly executed more than 75 people in 2011 and 2012, the Times reported.

The Saudi monarchy, which rules the kingdom, said the tradition is governed by the Koran, the kingdom’s only constitution.

The nation is the only country in the world to execute criminals with public beheadings, the Times reported.

In addition to sanctioning beheadings, the kingdom allows other medieval punishments, like cutting off the hands of a thief and stoning adulterers, though these punishments are reportedly less prevalent.

Murderers aren’t the only offenders who face beheadings if caught and convicted. Rapists, drug traffickers, and armed robbers also qualify for the public slaying in Saudi Arabia.

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Muslim scholars across the globe have disputed the Saudi's interpretation of The Koran that calls for public beheadings.

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