The Birthplace of Islam Continues to Impose Horrific Punishments on Dissenters
Outrage has spread around the world as Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has begun to impose its punishment of Raif Badawi, a blogger who holds Canadian citizenship. Free speech is not permitted in the kingdom, and Badawi was arrested for establishing the Saudi Arabian Liberals website. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of $275,000, and 1000 lashes. The beating, which is to be administered 50 lashes each Friday for five months, began last week.
One eyewitness told human rights organisation Amnesty International that Badawi was lashed on his back and legs without any break for at least five minutes.
“Raif was escorted from a bus and placed in the middle of the crowd, guarded by eight or nine officers,” the witness said.
“He was handcuffed and shackled but his face was not covered — everyone could see his face…
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar [who fled to Canada with their children], said she feared her husband may not be able to physically withstand a second round of lashes, let alone the same treatment every week for months…
Badawi’s public flogging is not uncommon in the kingdom, which often carries out punishments in public.
Last August, Saudi Arabia executed more than 20 death-row inmates in a record mass beheading, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, with the country executing more than 2000 people between 1985 and 2013, Amnesty reveals.
People in Saudi Arabia can be executed for a number of crimes, ranging from adultery to armed robber, apostasy, drug-related offenses, and rape.
NOTE: The second installment of Badawi’s flogging was postponed because of his medical condition. It is possible the Saudis are also responding to growing public pressure. Amnesty International has established a petition on his behalf.