On Monday, a Saudi woman named Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar was beheaded after being convicted of witchcraft and sorcery. Authorities had searched her home found a book about witchcraft and veils full of unknown liquid. It was known that Nassar was a “healer” in the region and was selling her veils for upwards of $400.
Although witchcraft and sorcery are not considered real crimes in Saudi Arabia, many say Saudi officials use this conviction as a veil to punish people practicing freedom of speech.
Another Saudi man was arrested last year after being convicted of sorcery. He was sentenced to death, however he still sits in jail awaiting his sentence. So why was Amina so abruptly convicted and then executed?
Maybe history can shed a little light upon why Saudi Arabia is still accusing women of witchcraft and executing them.
European witch trials and witch hunts ran from the 15th century till mid 18th century. By the time Europe’s belief in witches toned down in the late 18th century, 40,000 people had been executed. 80% of these were women. Why so many women?
It was an extremely deadly and and uncertain time to be alive. When so many people lay dying from disease, famine, and war (the black plaque, Thirty Years War, Reformation) the Catholic church pointed to women as the cause of so much suffering.
If you were a woman at this time, you were considered either good or bad, there was no middle ground. It all originates back to Adam and Eve (you’ll remember Eve screws it up for the rest of us by eating the apple) and Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene (one has babies without sex, the other is a prostitute). If European women living in this period were seen doing something other than their required duties (housework, childcare, cooking) then suspicion grew. And when little suzy down the road fell ill (because the black plague was swirling around like a hot mess) then that weird woman down the street who was seen not fulfilling her duties was to blame.
Saudi Arabia has the same misogynistic views toward women that the Catholic church had (and still has) about women. Saudi women are either good or bad. They either wear their burqas and stay confined to their homes, or they speak out, they try and drive cars when it’s illegal for women to do so. They try and make their voices heard, in which case they’re slapped with a idiotic crime like witchcraft and promptly executed.