April 1, 2010
Posted: 1639 GMT
Sometimes, it's hard to imagine there can be two sides to a story. In Saudi Arabia soon, unless that country's King commutes his sentence, a Lebanese TV host will be beheaded for the crime of "sorcery." Ali Sibat's lawyer says she has learned from a judicial source that the execution is scheduled on Friday.
It's 2010. This isn't 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts, where witches were sentenced to death based on "visions" and flimsy testimony. This isn't the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century. Those dark periods of religious zealotry during which leaders imposed a certain vision of compliant orthodoxy should be far behind us. Today, Saudis (including the clerics and leaders who issue death sentences for medieval sounding "crimes") have access to satellite television, the Internet and planes that fly them to the four corners of the earth.
Yet there is no sign that officials in Saudi Arabia will suspend the decapitation execution of Ali Sibat. The Lebanese TV host was sentenced to death last year for making predictions on a TV show from his home in Beirut and was arrested in Saudi Arabia while on pilgrimmage in Mecca.
One of America's top allies in the Middle East, whose oil is supplied to so many Western countries, is by all accounts going ahead with one of the most outrageous punishments against a man who isn't even a citizen of that country. Ali Sibat's lawyer says she has not been given access to him. The Lebanese Justice Minister called today on Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of the father of five, calling the sentence "disproportionate."
Human Rights groups, including Amnesty International, which will appear at the International Desk today, say they have tried to raise the profile of this particular case because bad publicity seems to be the only thing that gets the attention of authorities.
We will continue to watch this story, despite the fact that authorities in Saudi Arabia make it almost impossible to gather information on this or any other criminal case.
If this beheading goes ahead, the crime that will truly be committed in Saudi has nothing to do with witchcraft.
Perhaps there are two sides to this story: right and wrong.
Posted by: CNN Anchor, Hala Gorani
March 24, 2010
Posted: 1720 GMT
I just turned my desktop TV to the router where the White House Press Secretary will be holding a news conference in a few minutes. We are expecting reaction to the Israeli announcement that it is building more homes in East Jerusalem, this time in an Arab neighborhood.
The announcement came as a surprise since the decision to expand another East Jerusalem settlement a few weeks ago, during a high-level visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, caused such diplomatic tension between American and Israel. Today's news raised even more eyebrows because it came during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington.
From the White House so far, Assistant Press Secretary Tommy Vietor said: "We've made our position on Jerusalem clear on many occasions. We believe this is a final-status issue, and that both sides should refrain from acts that could undermine trust or prejudge the outcome of negotiations. We are seeking clarification on this and other issues from the Israelis."
Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, remained relatively tight-lipped as well, saying only that Mister Obama asked the Israeli PM to "take steps to build confidence" to achieve Middle East peace.
That's all we'll hear from the U.S. at this point, it seems.
We will be going live to Jerusalem for more on the issue. Jill Dougherty will join us for analysis from the White House. And Richard Roth from the United Nations with more on the move the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called "provocative."
Also today, we will bring you the latest on arrest of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Authorities are detaining dozens of men they say were operatives planning attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the beating heart of the Kingdom.
Frederick Pleitgen will join us to talk about Daimler's settlement with the U.S Justice Department over accusations the carmaker paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials in order to win contracts.
And guess who the world's richest football player is this year? it's not David Beckham anymore. We'll tell you in our World Sport segment.
All that and the rest of the day's top stories!
See you at the IDesk,
Posted by: CNN Anchor, Hala Gorani
International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.