Humanists UK at the UN calls for immediate release of those accused of apostasy in Saudi Arabia

14 March, 2019

The Saudi Government must overturn the death sentences of Ahmad Al Shamri and the poet Ashraf Fayadh, both convicted of apostasy, and release the blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned for blasphemy since 2013, Humanists UK told the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in an intervention Geneva.

Humanists UK’s representative Rachel Taggart-Ryan stated, ‘In 2018, Humanists International’s Freedom of Thought Report, which surveys discrimination and persecution against the non-religious worldwide, ranked Saudi Arabia as the most repressive country in the world, receiving a rating of ‘grave violation’ in all categories measured.

‘There is no freedom of religion or belief in Saudi Arabia. The Government prohibits the public practice of any religion or belief other than Islam. Blasphemy and apostasy remain crimes, with the latter carrying the death penalty.’

Ms Taggart-Ryan told the Council that, despite conciliatory rhetoric by the Saudi Government, there have been no improvements in freedom of religion or belief with those who have expressed humanist beliefs or defended human rights facing imprisonment and corporal and capital punishment.


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read the intervention:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.