Saudi Court Upholds Sentence for Blogger who ‘Insulted Islam’

Saudi Arabia's supreme court has upheld a sentence of 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes against blogger Raif Badawi on charges of insulting Islam, his wife said on Sunday, according to AFP.

The ruling came despite worldwide outrage over his case and criticism from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Canada and others.

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

Badawi received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes he was sentenced to outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9. Subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds.

Badawi has been held since mid-2012, and his Free Saudi Liberalswebsite is now closed

Rights groups and activists say his case is part of a wider clampdown on dissent throughout the kingdom. Officials have increasingly blunted calls for reforms since the region's 2011 Arab Spring upheaval.

On Sunday, Amnesty International slammed the "abhorrent" decision to uphold a "cruel and unjust sentence," describing 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, according to AFP.

Badawi's wife expressed fear that the implementation of the flogging sentence "might resume next week."

"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 told AFP.

The co-founder of Badawi’s online venue, Suad al-Shammari, was released from jail in February. But Badawi's lawyer, Walid Abulkhair, who is also a rights activist, remains behind bars.

Lashes are a common punishment in Saudi Arabia for offenses such as insulting the monarchy, blasphemy, or even insulting members of one’s own tribe.

Despite its less than stellar human rights record, Saudi Arabia won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council a year ago, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196411

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *