Shock over ISIS beheadings but silence over Saudi Arabia beheadings, Janine di Giovanni says oil prevents criticism

The crimes of the ISIS extremists often feel unhinged, but the beheadings of captives seem especially depraved. And yet, not so far away from the ISIS mayhem, Saudi Arabian executioners carry out the kingdom's justice -- in public -- with long swords. Today, we look at the brutal practice through the prisms of politics, history and hysteria....

The crimes of the ISIS extremists often feel unhinged, but the beheadings of captives seem especially depraved. And yet, not so far away from the ISIS mayhem, Saudi Arabian executioners carry out the kingdom's justice -- in public -- with long swords. Today, we look at the brutal practice through the prisms of politics, history and hysteria.


* This segment discusses the topic of execution - beheadings specifically - and we should warn you we deal with some very disturbing and graphic material. *


The crimes committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq are immense and repulsive. But videos of the extremists purportedly beheading captives appears deranged. Decapitation as a means of execution has terrified people as long as there have been sharp blades.

But while the world condemns ISIS, not so far away a nation routinely punishes its criminals in a similar way. And sometimes the punishment is for acts most people in the West wouldn't even consider crimes.

Newsweek Middle East editor Janine Di Giovanni has investigated beheadings in Saudi Arabia and she joined us from Paris.


We called and emailed the Saudi embassy in Ottawa to see if anyone wanted to comment on the practice of beheadings in Saudi Arabia. We have not heard back, but that offer remains open.


The beheadings by ISIS and the Saudi Kingdom are the latest manifestation of an ancient horror. Frances Larson has looked into the terrifying and bizarre history of beheadings in her new book "Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found". She is an honourary research fellow at the University of Oxford.


This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.

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