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Ensaf Haidar, left, wife of blogger Raif Badawi, takes part in a rally for his freedom, Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz

Protest outside Saudi Embassy for blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam

Raif Badawi criticised clerics and the kingdom’s notorious religious police.

FATHER OF TWO Raif Badawi has been behind bars since 2012 and has been lashed 50 times after setting up the website ‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’.

The 30-year-old criticised senior religious figures in ultra orthodox Saudi Arabia and for that he has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks and 10 years in prison.

A protest is taking place outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Dublin this evening to highlight the inhumane and degrading treatment of Badawi.

The sentence was imposed last September and the blogger received his first flogging of 50 lashes on Friday, January 9 – a few days before his birthday.

The second flogging, due to take place last Friday, was postponed after a medical examiner concluded that his wounds had not healed properly and that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at that time.

Amnesty International condemned his punishment as a “vicious act of cruelty”. It’s calling for the public flogging to be halted and Raif to be released immediately.

Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haider has sought asylum in Canada. She says she is not sure that he can survive a second round of lashes.

Speaking last week, she said, “Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor and I’m certain he will not be able to cope with another round of lashes.

I told our children about the news so that they would not find out about it from friends at school. It is a huge shock for them.

Ensaf Haidar Ensaf Haidar, left, wife of blogger Raif Badawi, takes part in a rally for his freedom, Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Montreal Ryan Remiorz Ryan Remiorz

Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said the event was an opportunity to express solidarity with Raif and other journalists, bloggers and those who are denied their freedom of speech:

The treatment of Raif Badwai is an outrage, an affront to human decency but it has not occurred in isolation.

“In 2014 the IFJ counted 118 journalists killed worldwide. In the Middle East 31 were killed, (12 in Syria, 9 in Palestine, 8 in Iraq).

“In Asia Pacific 35 journalists were killed, including 14 in Pakistan and 9 in Afghanistan.

Over 1,000 journalists have been killed in the last 10 years and governments across the globe have failed to act to protect journalism.

“In protesting at the treatment of Raif we are also calling for action to protect all media workers, as we did last week in Paris.”

The protest is being organised by the National Union of Journalists and Amnesty International and will start at 6pm.

Read: Blogger receives first 50 of 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam>

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