Saudi blogger’s flogging sentence upheld

Already having suffered 50 lashes in January, Raif Badawi still faces 950 more lashes and a decade in prison for insulting Islam, cyber crime, and disobeying his father

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Saudi writer, blogger and activist Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison plus a fine in 2014 for insulting Islam, cyber crime and disobeying his father, the BBC has reported.

Despite worldwide criticism from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Canada and others, Saudi Arabia’s supreme court has sentenced Badawi to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, Ensaf Haidar, Badawi’s wife said on Sunday.

"This is a final decision that is irrevocable," Ensaf Haidar told AFP in a telephone interview from Canada. "This decision has shocked me,” she added.

Badawi had already received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.

Amnesty International has described the punishment as “cruel and unjust” slamming it as a "dark day for freedom of expression."

"Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director.

The flogging might resume next week, according to Badawi’s wife.

"I was optimistic that the advent of [the Muslim fasting month of] Ramadan and the arrival of a new king would bring a pardon for the prisoners of conscience, including my husband," she said. 

Badawi is the co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group.

After criticising Saudi Arabia’s religious policies, he was arrested in June 2012 and the website was shut down by a court order.

The co-founder of the website, Suad al-Shammari, was also arrested but then released in February. 

However Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abdulkhair remain behind bars. 

Norwegian member of parliament Karin Andersen nominated Badawi and his lawyer for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

A huge campaign was launched by Badawi’s supporters on Twitter posting pictures along with the #blacklash hashtag.

Badawi's wife and three children have been granted asylum in Quebec, Canada.  

Quebec's Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said in March that her government would "continue its defence of Mr. Badawi," saying this was a "clear case of human rights violation."

"The kingdom does not accept any form of interference in [Saudi Arabia’s] internal affairs and rejects ... the attack on the independence of [the country’s] justice system," Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Canada, Naif Bin Bandir Al-Sudairy, complained officially in a letter sent to authorities in Canada.

TRTWorld and agencies