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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Tunisia: Death Sentence in Sufi Shrine Killing

Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
The leader of a group of Takfiri Salafists has been sentenced to death for his part in the killing of a guard at a Sufi shrine in the country's southeast.

Others within the group received sentences varying from life imprisonment to five years for their part in the murder.

The Court learned that the unnamed victim had been on duty at the Sufi, Zaouia Sidi Abdelkader shrine at Menzel Bouzelfa (around 60km from the capital) in February of last year when the group of 13 hooded men approached and stabbed him to death.

The court sentenced the group's leader to death for "voluntary homicide." Another member of the group received a sentence of 36 years imprisonment for involvement in the murder. The remainder of the group received sentences varying between 5 and 10 years, with 3 acquitted.

Although it is still permitted by law, Tunisia voted in favor of the 2012 UN General Assembly moratorium on executions, with no executions having taken place since 1991. Prior to the moratorium, 135 executions occurred within Tunisia, the majority under former President Habib Bourguiba. However, though unused, the sentence remains upon the statute books as the Courts' stiffest sanction.

The death penalty is opposed on principle by many human rights groups. Speaking of its application in terrorist cases, Lotfi Azouz, Director of Amnesty International in Tunis said, "When a Terrorist commits a serious crime, they do so expecting death. This is their mindset. They expect to be a martyr and be sent to heaven, so the death penalty is actually working in their favor."

Sufism is sometimes regarded as the mystical dimension of Islam, cantering upon the internal spirituality of the individual. Sufism involves the search for divine love, which is believed to lead to the path of spiritual awakening.

Given its strong focus upon the internal, as well as the building of shrines to prominent Sufists, conservative and radical preachers tend to claim the sect is heretical and opposed to the fundamental teachings of the Qu'ran.

Source: tunisia-live.net, June 17, 2016

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