Accused of insulting Islam, 31 year old has 950 lashes to go
Raif Badawi almost died in January when he received 50 lashes for insulting Islam. So he got a break.
But he’s due to go back to receiving his punishment soon. After all, the sentence is for 1000 lashes, so he’s got a long way to go.
CNN reported that Friday’s scheduled flogging for Badawi, a 31-year-old liberal blogger and father of three, was postponed.
Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict against Badawi, the New York Times reported, citing state-linked news websites. The decision is final and cannot be overturned unless he receives a royal pardon.
Badawi, imprisoned since 2012, initially was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through a blog he created.
After an appeal, a criminal court in Jiddah last year stiffened the punishment to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years after his prison term and fined $266,000.
In January, security officials flogged Badawi outside a mosque in Jiddah. Saudi rights activists said it was meant as a warning to others who think to criticize the religious establishment, of which the ruling family derives much of its authority.
Amnesty International, which launched a global campaign for Badawi’s release, reported that the lashes had been scheduled to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week. The Times reports:
Saudi Arabia’s Western allies, including Washington, have called on authorities to rescind the punishment. The kingdom maintains its judiciary is independent and has rejected international pressure as interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Salim Mansur, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, blogged about the case:
Badawi was accused of insulting Islam in his blog posts. In a country where thinking is forbidden, Badawi had expressed forbidden thoughts by questioning the nature of his society and going public with them.
Badawi, for instance, had written, "Muslims in Saudi Arabia not only disrespect the beliefs of others, but also charge them with infidelity — to the extent that they consider anyone who is not Muslim an infidel. They also, within their own narrow definitions, consider non-Hanbali [the Saudi school of Islam] Muslims as apostates. How can we be such people and build… normal relations with six billion humans, four and a half billion of whom do not believe in Islam?"