Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on Criminal Beheading of Western Michigan University Student by Saudi Arabia

For Release: 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—Earlier today, the American Federation of Teachers learned that Mujtaba al-Sweikat, an admitted Western Michigan University student detained at Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd International Airport in 2012, was beheaded by his own government. His murder took place alongside 36 others in a mass execution of individuals charged with alleged “terrorism” offences. Mujtaba was tortured and made to “confess” to his crimes before being convicted.

The AFT, which represents faculty at WMU, had campaigned alongside Reprieve and others for Mujtaba’s release and is shocked and saddened by the news of the beheadings. AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:

“Saudi Arabia’s sickening criminal beheading of a young student, after he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for years, is a despicable violation of international law and basic humanity. Condemned at 17, Mujtaba al-Sweikat was planning to attend Western Michigan University when he was arrested after attending a peaceful protest rally. Today, we discover this young man has been executed, along with more than 30 others, in a ghastly display of state brutality.

“If it was not already clear, Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has moved to the top tier of the bloodiest regimes in world history. We demand the U.S. government immediately condemn, in every way and with every means, this disgusting and outrageous crime.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.