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Austria censures Saudi on human rights record

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has openly criticized Saudi Arabia over its dismal human rights records and its promotion of the Wahabbi ideology.

During a Thursday meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Kurz said that Austria is at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues and views numerous death penalties handed down in the Arab kingdom as “inhumane.”

The top Austrian diplomat said he had raised the issues in his meetings with Saudi King Salman.

Kurz also urged Saudi Arabia to create more opportunities for the relocation of the Syrian refugees in the Middle East, saying the kingdom has not done enough to that effect.

Before his trip to Riyadh on Wednesday, Kurz had said Austria is critical of the kingdom’s violations of women’s rights.

He also said that Saudi Arabia should provide a clear answer over the propagation of extremist ideologies abroad.

“We definitively have a problem with the export of the Wahhabi ideology…and we clearly reject its influence,” Kurz said.
The Austrian foreign minister also said he would pursue the case of three opposition figures – blogger Raif Badawi, Shia activist Ali al-Nimr and Palestinian Ashraf Fayadh.

Badawi is sentenced to 1,000 lashes of the whip and a 10-year prison for his criticism of the Wahabbi establishment. Fayadh, a Palestinian poet, is sentenced to death for insulting Islam while Nimr, 17, is held behind bars for participation in an anti-government demonstration.

Since the start of 2015, Saudi Arabia has carried out 145 executions by beheading.

In response to a question on Badawi’s fate during the Thursday press conference with Kurz, Saudi’s Jubeir said Riyadh expects other countries to respect decisions by the country’s judicial system.

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