Ah, Saudi Arabia:
A Saudi court jailed a Lebanese man for six years and sentenced him to 300 lashes after convicting him of encouraging a Saudi woman to convert to Christianity, Saudi dailies reported Sunday.
The same court sentenced a Saudi man convicted in the same case to two years in prison and 200 lashes for having helped the young woman flee the ultra-conservative, US-backed Sunni kingdom, local daily Al-Watan said.
The July 2012 case caused a stir in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Sharia that stipulates Muslims who convert to another religion must be sentenced to death.
The woman, known only as “the girl of Khobar,” was granted refuge in Sweden where she lives under the protection of unspecified NGOs, according to local press reports.
This is not out of left field. Not only does Saudi Arabia live under Sharia law, polls shows that a substantial number of Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam, ranging from 4% in Kazakhstan to majorities in Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. (That comes from a rather alarming Pew report (PDF)).
One of the few legitimate points that Bill Maher has made is that we can not view all religious extremists as the same. No matter how extreme the Religious Right might or might not be, none of them are calling for the death penalty for leaving Christianity and very few even support Dominionism. Muslims in the US and Europe are far less likely to support such radical views. But where Islam has real power — the Middle East and central Asia — these views are common.