Looks like the media spotlight and global campaigning by groups like Amnesty International has succeeded in saving Ali Hussain Sibat, the Lebanese TV psychic sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for “witchcraft” after being arrested by the country’s religious police during a pilgrimage. The Associated Press reports that Sibat’s attorney has gotten assurances that the father of five will not be killed, though there’s no word on whether he will remain imprisoned for life instead. Saudi Arabian law considers witchcraft a violation of Islam, which Muslim extremists believe should be punishable by death.
In related news, I haven’t heard of any major Muslim outcry since “South Park” concluded its two-part 200th episode last night, which riffed on the debate over censoring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (a figure they had depicted, uncensored, in a pre-9/11 episode featuring him as part of a religious superhero organization), even while depicting Jesus watching Internet porn and Buddha snorting cocaine. Perhaps the cartoon hasn’t made it over to Saudi Arabia yet; it should be uploaded to the South Park Studios website in a few weeks. Check out a related Beliefnet column on the Mohammed/Muhammad issue here.