Samantha Lang Awaits Sentencing in Ulaysha Prison, Saudi Arabia
The Berkeley Multi-Cultural Outreach & Socialist Club has been arrested and charged with the crime of apostasy--which carries the sentence of death--during their trip to Saudi Arabia. The club, which exists to "Welcome and Learn about Other Cultures" traveled to the Saudi Kingdom in the wake of the Orlando shooting to show "solidarity with our Islamic brothers and sisters."
Upon arrival they visited the Masjid al-Haram mosque and asked to be "welcomed into Islam." Corey Washington, the only member of the club who was not arrested spoke to us over phone from the US Embassy.
"We thought, you know, we'd just try it out," he told Real True News. "Samantha was raised Baptist but she self-identifies as Wiccan--and she's tried out all kinds of things. Unitarianism, atheism. We wanted to try out Judaism--but, man, that's a lot of work."
When asked if he knew that the religious state treats leaving the religion as a crime punishable by death, he told us they'd heard that, but did not believe it.
"After we acted all Islamic for a little while, we decided to then switch back and hold a Wiccan Prayer Circle in the city square. That's when they arrested us. We never imagined people could act like that."
"They're a peaceful religion," he told us. "Or, well, some of them are. I don't know. We never thought they'd take it seriously--it's just a, you know, what you say you believe. I can't understand it. It's like everything everyone's been saying about these people was true. I just can't handle it."
Washington was spared because he was booking the hotel at the time of the student's conversion and did not speak the words necessary to join Islam ("There is but one God, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet.").
Daniel Harchester of the US Embassy told us "We think we can get these incredibly stupid college kids out before they suffer any real harm. We're in negotiations with the Saudi Government and we know they'll get whatever they want from Obama for their return. Me, personally? I'm just trying to see if we can take their passports away until they grow up some more."
The Berkeley Multi-Cultural Outreach & Socialist Club Group Photo