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Saudi blogger's flogging for "insulting Islam" postponed

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

Image: Thejournal

RAIF BADAWI HAS had the second instalment of 50 lashes of his sentence of 1,000 postponed.

He had been due to receive the second 50 of his 1,000 lashes today.

His crime? Criticising senior religious figures in ultra orthodox Saudi Arabia.

Today, Amnesty International received information indicating that the flogging has not been carried out today on medical grounds.

Badawi was removed from his jail cell this morning and taken to the prison clinic for a medical check-up before his sentence was due to be carried out. The doctor concluded that the wounds had not yet healed properly and that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time.

He recommended that the flogging should be postponed until next week. It is unclear whether the authorities will fully comply with this demand.

“Not only does this postponement on health grounds expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity. The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous. Flogging should not be carried out under any circumstances,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.

Wife in asylum

Last Friday, he was lashed 50 times outside al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah after Friday prayers. Amnesty International, citing witnesses, said the whole ordeal “lasted around 15 minutes” and that Badawi was shackled.

The governments of the USA, Canada, Germany and Norway among others have issued statements condemning the flogging, and Badawi’s wife, who has sought asylum in Canada, says she is not sure that he can survive a second round of lashes.

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“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,” she said.

“I told our children about the news last week so that they would not find out about it from friends at school. It is a huge shock for them. International pressure is crucial, I believe if we keep up the support it will eventually pay off. We must keep on fighting.”

Media watchdog RSF said the punishment was “barbaric” and noted it came after Saudi Arabia condemned the assault on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Badawi is the co-founder of the now-banned Saudi Liberal Network along with women’s rights campaigner Suad al-Shammari, who was also accused of insulting Islam and arrested last October.

Shammari has said the charges against Badawi were levelled after the Saudi Liberal Network criticised clerics and the kingdom’s notorious religious police, who have been accused of a heavy-handed enforcement of sharia law.

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

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