Court reprieve for liberal Saudi blogger

Raif Badawi may not now face death sentence after accused of insulting Islam
(Image for illustrative purposes).
By Claire Valdini
Wed 23 Jan 2013 01:59 PM

A court in Saudi Arabia has referred the case of a liberal blogger, accused of insulting Islam, back to the lower court, meaning he may not be sentenced to death if found guilty.

Raif Badawi, a co-founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested last year accused of apostasy and disobedience. A judge on Tuesday refused to charge Badawi, instead referring the case back to a lower court, BBC News reported.

Badawi was arrested after declaring 7 May 2012 a “day for Saudi liberals” in a bid to encourage open discussion about social and religious issues. The evidence against him reportedly included a Facebook ‘like' on a page for Arab Christmas.

The case highlights a growing disconnect between reformists and conservative authorities in Saudi Arabia. Saudi writer Turki Al Hamad is currently under house arrest after criticising Islamists on Twitter, while blogger Hamza Kashgari was extradited from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia almost a year ago on similar charges.

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