Saudi blogger lashed in public for 'insulting Islam': witnesses

Published: January 9, 2015
In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Badawi. PHOTO: AFP

In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Badawi. PHOTO: AFP

JEDDAH: Saudi blogger Raef Badawi was flogged in public Friday near a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, receiving 50 lashes for “insulting Islam”, witnesses said.

In September, a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Badawi, and he is expected to have 20 weekly whipping sessions until his punishment is complete.

The United States, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have denounced the flogging as a horrific form of punishment, and said Badawi was exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Witnesses said that Badawi, 30, was flogged after the weekly Friday prayers near Al Jafali mosque as a crowd of worshippers looked on.

Badawi was driven to the site in a police car, and taken out of the vehicle as a government employee read out the charges against him to the crowd.

The blogger was made to stand with his back to onlookers as another man began flogging him, witnesses said, adding that Badawi did not make any sound or cry in pain.

The faithful who had emerged from noon prayers watched in silence and were ordered by security forces not to take any pictures on their mobile phones.

On the eve of the flogging, the US slammed it as an “inhumane punishment”.

“We are greatly concerned about reports that human rights activist Raef Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of 1,000 lashes in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

She said the US called on “Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment” and to review his case.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the punishment was “barbaric” and noted its timing after Saudi Arabia condemned Wednesday’s deadly attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“Although Saudi Arabia condemned yesterday’s cowardly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, it is now preparing to inflict the most barbaric punishment on a citizen who just used his freedom of expression and information,” Reporters Without Borders program director Lucie Morillon said Thursday.

Badawi, who has been in jail since 2012, is a “prisoner of conscience”, said London-based Amnesty International, demanding his release.

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

“Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment are prohibited under international law, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Amnesty’s Philip Luther.


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Reader Comments (12)

  • straightshooter
    Jan 9, 2015 - 5:13PM

    They say everything is created for a purpose. Wonder why the Saudis were created.


  • Another Pakistani
    Jan 9, 2015 - 5:14PM

    The US should stop executing criminals as in my opinion, it is also against human rights to execute a person. Is the US going to stop because of my reservations?


  • woody
    Jan 9, 2015 - 5:49PM


    They say everything is created for a
    purpose. Wonder why the Saudis were

    Maybe to remind you what things were like 600 years ago?


  • Gangadas
    Jan 9, 2015 - 6:30PM

    Religion without philosophy is fanaticism.


  • Toba Alu
    Jan 9, 2015 - 7:17PM

    The Kingdom is so slowly progressing that they are still in the Dark Ages. If they are not careful they may well go further back in time till they arrive in the Stone Age. Maybe so slowly that they can observe the Big Bang. That would be news.


  • TooTrue
    Jan 9, 2015 - 8:45PM

    And these are the people we use as our model. Heaven forfend.


  • Urwah
    Jan 9, 2015 - 9:42PM

    If he criticised Saudi’s backward laws such as no women driving or voting and what not, how is that criticising Islam when it has no issue with women doing either…for how long are we going to mix up islam with culture. Islam requires you to dress modestly. Why does it matter if it’s an abaya or a shalwar Kaneez or trousers and a top. Seriously.


  • someone
    Jan 9, 2015 - 10:40PM

    While on the other hand, movie PK is raking millions in India.


  • Raeef Badawi
    Jan 9, 2015 - 11:22PM

    Saudis must set Rauf badawi Free
    Please dont forget Junaid Hafeez who is in Multan prison for same charges
    please google Junaid Hafeez see his case and raise your voice for him


  • ajeet
    Jan 10, 2015 - 3:36AM

    Waiting for their oil to get over and see them go back to camel herding.


  • whats in the name
    Jan 10, 2015 - 6:45AM

    Receiving 1000 lashes. And 20 each in 50 installments.The poor soul would die before he crosses 100. Let this punishment not befall on even my enemy.


  • Ijaz Durrani
    Jan 10, 2015 - 12:49PM

    For belashing and beheading deviant Muslims!!


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