Saudi Arabia

Of Saudi Arabia's 34 million citizens, 85-90% are Sunni Muslim, which, despite nearly a million Christian foreign workers, is the only religion legally allowed to be practiced. It has no written criminal code. Islamic religious law is the law of the land, and blasphemy and apostasy are specifically prohibited and systematically prosecuted. The country is a theocratic monarchy, and under siyasa policy, any act taken by the king must conform to Islamic principles. Islamic scholars, ulema, are directly consulted in the development of legislation.

  Saudi Arabia
History of Blasphemy & Apostasy Laws

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and houses its two holiest sites. The Saudi state was born out of the alliance between Mohammed ibn Saud, and Sheikh Mohamed ibn Abdul Wahab, proponent of the orthodox Islamic practices the state operates on today. Despite never being a European colony, the Saudi legal system was influenced by French jurisprudence, which had melded common and Ottoman law in other Arab states. Unique even among Muslim countries utilizing religious law, Saudi religious law was not codified until 2018, prior to which it had been administered with significant subjective judicial discretion. In lieu of a constitution, Saudi Arabia has a “Basic Law,” introduced in 1992, the first article of which declares  “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; God’s Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet are its constitution.”

Atheism was deliberately targeted by a royal decree in March 2014, declaring that  "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” was terrorism. Arrests for blasphemy regularly occur, both for high-profile bloggers like Raif Badawi, and for anyone simply accused of “insulting god” online. In April 2020, Saudi Arabia abolished flogging, one of the punishments often used against “religious prisoners of conscience.”

Cases of Persecution in Saudi Arabia
Saudi man arrested for allegedly insulting Prophet's wife in social media post
Shailesh Kumar sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for blasphemy
Founder of Free Saudi Liberals, author Raif Badawi, imprisoned
Poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh sentenced to death on account of writings
Ali Abu Luhum imprisoned 15 years for apostasy
Indian expat Harish Bangera imprisoned for blasphemy in Saudi Arabia
Ahmad al-Shamri sentenced to death for announcing atheism online
Saudi columnist Hamza Kashgari exiled, extradited, imprisoned for blasphemy
Reformist cleric Hassan Farhan al-Maliki arrested and detained
Saudi attempts to detain ex-Muslim Rahaf Mohammed despite family threatening murder
Engineer Shankar Ponnam assaulted, fined, imprisoned for blasphemous Facebook post
Vishnu Dev Radhakrishnan receives 10 years in prison for insulting the Prophet Muhammad online