Deera Square

Deera Square
ساحة الديرة
Deera Square, 2011
Locationad-Dirah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Coordinates24°37′51″N 46°42′43″E / 24.630884°N 46.711838°E / 24.630884; 46.711838
Known forPublic executions

Deera Square (Arabic: ساحة الديرة), also known as Justice Square (Arabic: ميدان العدل) or Safa Square (Arabic: ساحة الصفاة)[1] and infamously as Chop-Chop Square,[2][1][3] is a public space in the ad-Dirah neighborhood of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, located adjacent to the al-Hukm Palace compound and Imam Turki bin Abdullah Grand Mosque in the Qasr al-Hukm District. It is known as the historic site of public executions, where those sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia are publicly beheaded.[4][5]

At unannounced times, Saudi security forces and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body, which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites. It is a crime to record, with photos or videos, the executions, despite the number of attendees witnessing such public events.[6]

Saudi Arabia remains the only country with legal capital punishment by decapitation (beheading)[7] – in 2022, recorded executions in Saudi Arabia reached 196, the highest number recorded in the country in 30 years –, but beheading are no longer carried out in public, with no public executions having been recorded in the country in 2022,[8] after crescent international criticism and comparison between Saudi Arabia's and the Islamic State group's practices relating to public executions by decapitation.[9]

Publicity of the executions

In 2009, Canadian journalist Adam St. Patrick, who witnessed a public execution in the square, reported: "[T]he process is less overtly public now than it once was. Corpses aren’t hung for display in the square as often, and beheadings drew much bigger crowds when they were a regular event, held on Fridays after noon prayers. No formal event or fanfare begins or ends them now, and nothing indicates awareness or concern about how alien this is to outsiders."[2]

In 2015, it was reported that filming the public beheadings in Saudi Arabia had been forbidden. There was speculation that this was due to the international repercussion of public beheadings then carried out by the Islamic State, and the alleged irony of the fact that Saudi Arabia, being a key ally in the U.S.-led coalition against the group, carried out the same sort of brutal punishments as the militant group.[9]


See also


  1. ^ a b ""Amid flurry of Saudi reforms, mocktails on order in execution square"".
  2. ^ a b "Chop Chop Square | The Walrus". 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  3. ^ "Justice In Saudi Arabia". 11 December 2002. Archived from the original on 7 March 2005. Retrieved 30 October 2006.
  4. ^ al-Omar, Asmaa; Hubbard, Ben (2021-08-13). "For a Crime at 14, He Faces Death in a Case Casting Doubt on Saudi Reforms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 3 October 2023. A former site of public executions in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital.
  5. ^ Leung, Rebecca (6 May 2005). "Saudi Justice?". CBS News. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015.
  6. ^ Drennan, Justine (20 January 2015). "Saudi Arabia's Beheadings Are Public, but It Doesn't Want Them Publicized". Foreign Policy.
  7. ^ "An execution every two days: Saudi Arabia's surge in killings". Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  8. ^ "Death sentences and executions 2022". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  9. ^ a b Hubbard, Ben (2015-01-19). "Man Who Filmed Execution Is Arrested, Saudi Outlets Say". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-01-07.

External links

  • Media related to Deera Square at Wikimedia Commons
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