A senior cleric in Saudi Arabia has given his seal of approval for execution by firing squad, as long as it is as quick or faster than the traditional method of beheading, it was reported.
Media reports last week suggested that the kingdom, which enforces a strict version of Sharia law, was mulling introducing firing squads to carry out executions, apparently due to a lack of qualified swordsmen.
Sheikh Ali Al-Hakami, member of the Senior Board of Ulema, was quoted by English language Saudi Gazette as saying that death by firing squad could be permissible according to Sharia, as long as the process is painless.
“That’s why beheading by sword is the best way to achieve the purpose of punishment in Islam because it does not cause any torture,” Al-Hakami said.
Al-Hakami added that religious scholars in the Gulf’s most populous country should also investigate the possibility of using other methods, such as electric chair, hanging and lethal injections, to find out if they also comply with Sharia.
The man is one of seven sentenced to death by crucifixion and firing squad for their part in a 23-member ring that stole from jewelry stores in 2004 and 2005.
According to rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people so far this year, compared with 82 in 2011 and a similar number in 2012.