A Saudi official accused Amnesty International on Saturday of aiming to tarnish the image of Islam with its report on alleged human rights violations in the kingdom.
"The organization knows full well that the penal system in the kingdom is inspired by Islamic Sharia (law)," Prince Turki bin Sultan bin Abdel Aziz, undersecretary at the information ministry, told Al-Jazira newspaper.
"But it seems they don't like it and they don't want to understand the purpose of punishments laid down by Islam," he said.
"This libel, concealed behind fine words, primarily targets Islam and the kingdom which carries the banner of Islam and applies it in word and spirit," charged Prince Turki.
"The enemies of this country are on the look-out for a chance to spread their venom and to stir up ill-will, but we must remain vigilant in the face of these efforts," he said.
In a March 28 report, Amnesty accused Saudi Arabia of arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, the persecution of political opponents and religious minorities and cruel judicial punishments, including amputations.
The kingdom, while rejecting the charges from the London-based human rights organization, has said it was ready for a special rapporteur to visit to check on the independence of its judicial system.
The Gulf state regularly imposes the death penalty on murderers, drug traffickers, rapists, armed robbers and those convicted of apostasy, and also orders the amputation of the hands -- or sometimes feet -- of convicted thieves.
In a statement published by Amnesty last week, Saudi Arabia was counted among the countries with highest execution rates in 1999, together with Iran and the US – (AFP)
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