Saudi blogger receives first 50 lashes of sentence for ‘insulting Islam’

Raif Badawi has been given 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes to be done over 20 weeks
Raif Badawi together with his youngsters in a picture supplied to Amnesty.
Raif Badawi together with his children in a picture furnished to Amnesty. Photograph: Amnesty
Press in Dubai
Saturday 10 January 2015 05.06 GMT First posted on Friday 9 January 2015 16.39 GMT
A Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam was introduced after Friday prayers to a public square in the port metropolis of Jeddah and flogged 50 instances earlier than hundreds of spectators, a witness to the lashing stated.

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The witness said Raif Badawi’s feet and palms had been shackled in the course of the flogging however his face turned into seeing. He remained silent and did no longer cry out, stated the witness, who spoke to the Associated Press on the circumstance of anonymity fearing government reprisal.

 

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Badawi became sentenced ultimate May to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes. He had criticized Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on a liberal blog he based. The weblog has due to the fact been close down. He was additionally ordered to pay a high-quality of 1m riyals or about $266, six hundred.

Rights activists say Saudi authorities are the use of Badawi’s case as a caution to others who assume to criticize the Dominion’s powerful religious status quo from which the ruling family partly derives its authority.

London-based Amnesty International stated he could acquire 50 lashes as soon as per week for 20 weeks. The US, a close best friend of Saudi Arabia, has called on government to cancel the punishment.

Despite worldwide pleas for his launch, Badawi, a father of three, was delivered from prison through the bus to the public rectangular on Friday and flogged on the returned in the front of a crowd that had just completed noon prayers at a nearby mosque. His face changed into visible and, in the course of the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, stated the witness.

The witness, who also has near expertise of the case, stated the lashing lasted approximately 15 mins.

Badawi has been held seeing that mid-2012 after he founded the Free Saudi Liberals weblog. He used it to criticize the Dominion’s influential clerics who follow a strict, conservative interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia.

He was at the start sentenced in 2013 to seven years in jail and six hundred lashes on the subject of the prices, however after an enchantment the decide stiffened the punishment. Following his arrest, his wife and youngsters left the kingdom for Canada.

Rights corporations argue that the case in opposition to Badawi is part of a much wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Criticism of clerics is visible as a pink line because of their prestige in the country, as well as their influential function in supporting authorities guidelines.

According to Amnesty the fees against Badawi point out his failure to remove articles by using other people on his internet site. He became also accused in court docket of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s morality police.

In an assertion after the flogging Amnesty referred to as it a “vicious act of cruelty” and said Badawi’s “simplest ‘crime’ was to exercise his proper to freedom of expression by way of putting in place an internet site for public dialogue”.

The US state branch spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the punishment an “inhumane” response to a person exercising his proper to freedom of expression and religion.

In New York, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary trendy, informed news hounds on Friday that the UN human rights workplace become “very concerned approximately the flogging” and had formerly raised concerns about harsh sentences in Saudi Arabia for human rights defenders.