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Saudi Opens Job Opportunities For Swordsmen, Beheaders


Job seekers in Saudi Arabia who have a strong constitution and endorse strict Islamic law might consider new opportunities carrying out public beheadings and amputating the hands of convicted thieves.

The eight positions, as advertised on the website of the Ministry of Civil Service, require no specific skills or educational background for “carrying out the death sentence according to Islamic Shariahafter it is ordered by a legal ruling.”

But given the grisly nature of the job, a scarcity of qualified swordsmen in some regions of the country and a rise in the frequency of executions, candidates might face a heavy workload.

Saudi Arabia’s justice system punishes drug dealing, arms smuggling, and murder and other violent crimes with death, usually by beheading in a public square

Although the law also mandates that thieves in some cases have their hands cut off, that punishment is rarely carried out because judges consider it distasteful, according to Saudi lawyers.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia beheaded a man for a drug offense, making him the 85th person to be executed this year, according to a count by Human Rights Watch based on Saudi government statements.

That is almost as many people as the country executed in all of last year, when 88 people were beheaded.

Thirty-eight of this year’s executions, including the one on Sunday, were for drug-related crimes with no allegations of violence, according to Adam Coogle, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.

In the United States, 35 prisoners were executed in 2014.

Saudi officials have not commented on the increased pace of beheadings, which Saudi leaders often describe as the best way to deter crime.

The call for executioners comes four months after King Salman, who has moved quickly to reorganize the government and promote a younger generation of officials, ascended to the throne.

So far, the king has not indicated any intention to overhaul the judicial sector, where deeply conservative judges have great power to define crimes and set punishments.


Diplomats cited by Reuters have said that the rise in executions this year might be the result of new judicial appointments that have allowed a backlog of appeal cases to be decided.

The job openings posted Monday did not specify relevant experience, training or a preferred educational background required for the job, nor was the salary indicated.

In some Saudi provinces, the job of swordsman is passed down from father to son.

In Qassim Province, north of the capital, Riyadh, the primary swordsman works full time as a guard for the region’s prince and carries out executions on the side, earning a bonus of more than $1,000 per head, according to local government officials who know him.


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