A Saudi court has sentenced a poet accused of blasphemy to death.
Ashraf Fayadh, a writer of Palestinian origin, is accused specifically of insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and the Quran as well as “spreading atheism.” CNN reports that Fayadh previously faced a charge for “inappropriate relations with the opposite sex.”
Fayadh’s sister condemned the verdict in statements to media.
“He wrote in words that stupid people misunderstood,” she said, claiming the charges had been brought by a man with a personal vendetta against her brother.
Human Rights Watch has also called for clemency. Its spokeswoman, Sarah Leah Whitson, told reporters that “regardless of what Fayadh said or didn’t say, Saudi Arabia should stop arresting people for their personal beliefs.”
The verdict inspired an international outcry. Fayadh’s legal team has not yet announced if they’ll appeal the sentence.