In its short column, the newspaper cited sharia as a justification for the executions, and concluded with a quotation from the Qur'an (dodgy use of the English language as per original):
In Islamic Law 7, crimes are prohibited and each has specified consequential punishment once committed: “Theft, Adultery, Verbal abuse, Consumption of intoxicants, Prostitution, Defection (abandoning one’s religion), and Banditry.
The convicted 47 have been proven guilty of Banditry, which inflicts on a social level and directly harms the community.
On the statement of Banditry religious scholars have referred to a Quran citation that specifically explains on the crime’s fall out [Al-Maidah Ayat: 33]
“The reward of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to create disorder in the land is only this that they be slain or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on alternate sides, or they be expelled from the land. That shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the Hereafter they shall have a great punishment;”
Aside from its inflammatory content, the quoted Qur'anic verse is notable for being the one that directly follows an oft-quoted verse used by Islamic apologists to demonstrate that Islam is a Religion of Peace: "whosoever killeth a human being...it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." (5:32)
For the sake of "balance", it should be noted that Asharq Al Awsat - which was set up and remains based in London - is generally viewed as a pro-Saudi paper, but it is influential nevertheless (it only has a modest circulation, but its Arabic Twitter feed has 1.5 million followers). Its brazen defence of Saudi barbarity based on Islamic principles demonstrates yet again the MAINSTREAM character of so-called "extremist" Islamic values, available to ordinary Muslims around the world, and ready to be seized upon by anyone with the will and the piety to take the obvious lethal next steps.