Five Indonesian migrant workers are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia after they were found guilty of practicing what Saudi authorities consider magic and sorcery.
“Most of them were convicted because they had jimat (traditional amulets) with them,” said the Foreign Ministry’s Indonesian citizen protection director, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, recently.
Many migrant workers leave Indonesia carrying a jimat as a good luck charm. Jimat came in many different forms: from a hair bundle put into a tiny bag to a Quran verse kept in a wallet, Lalu said.
Many Muslims in Indonesia are unorthodox and do not consider jimat to be problematic.
However, he said, Saudi authorities found such practices to be shirk(worshiping anyone or anything other than the Almighty God). In Saudi Arabia, this can result in capital punishment.
“Nonetheless, the regulation is not based on the Quran. Therefore, we usually manage to acquire clemency from the Saudi government,” Iqbal said.
Indonesian officials usually find it harder to get clemency for those found guilty of a murder case.
“They could only be freed from the execution charge with clemency given by the victims’ family,” Iqbal said.
Between 2011 and 2018, 102 Indonesians faced death row in Saudi Arabia. Three were executed, 79 were freed from the execution, and 20 are still in the legal process for clemency. Of the 20, five were charged with practicing magic.
A total of 583 Indonesian citizens have faced the death penalty abroad.