Saudi blogger sentenced to 600 lashes not hopeful about appeal - lawyer

Raif Badawi avoided the death penalty but was sentenced to more than seven years for “insulting Islam”

A Jeddah court sentenced Raif Badawi, who started the

A Jeddah court sentenced Raif Badawi, who started the "Free Saudi Liberals" website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia.

The lawyer representing a Saudi Arabian online journalist who was sentenced to more than seven years in prison and 600 lashes for “insulting Islam” said he is not optimistic about how successful appealing the verdict will be.

Raif Badawi, who started the "Free Saudi Liberals" website to discuss the role of religion in the kingdom, was arrested in June 2012 and was sentenced by a Jeddah court lat month.

The blogger was sentenced to five years for “insulting Islam” and two more for insulting the Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

A further three months was also added for “parental disobedience” after Badawi’s father went on TV to condemn his son’s website.

A leading cleric, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al Barrak, hit out at Badawi after he wrote on the website that “Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists are all equal”, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

While Badawi's website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as the Grand Mufti, according to Human Rights Watch, he claimed he never meant to insult Islam and only sought to provide a forum for open debate.

He has until September 6 to lodge an appeal but Waleed Abu Al Khair, a Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer handling his case, was pessimistic an appeal would change anything.

“We don’t believe they will change,” Al Khair was quoted as saying. “We hope they will look at the pressure from the outside regarding dialogue among religions... To be honest with you, the majority of people here believe he should be punished for being a liberal.”

The 600 lashes will be administered in groups of 150, with Badawi allowed to be hospitalised and given a break in between.

Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar said he was “extremely depressed at the judgement” but was “pretty resilient”.

“The Saudis would love him to apologise and show him mercy. But he stands by his beliefs. He won’t back down,” she was quoted as saying.

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Posted by: Doug

Does anyone else find it bizarre that apparently, a fully grown, independent adult can be jailed for three months for 'parental disobedience'? What a bizarre legal climate....

Posted by: Anon

Backward, and anyone that agrees with it is backward. Time will change Saudi and medieval practices like this will slowly die out. The people who perpitrate these practices and condone them will be remembered for the backward fools that they are, just as those that burned 'witches' in medieval europe are remembered now. He, as others, will doubtless be remembered by a few as a leading light in change and development but sadly as many before him around the world have, he will probably suffer badly for it. Saudi had slaves 50 years ago, and probably still has them now. Half the country is living in the middle ages from a practical point of view and most of the people's heads are still in the middle ages. As I say, time will change Saudi, but sadly not quick enough for this guy. Good luck to him and Kudos for not apologising.

Posted by: Anonymous

With all due respect to different thiests around the world, and athiests as well.

We are all equal , just divided by different thoughts created by our rulers in order to serve their best interest.

What is islam , what is christianity, what is judism ... all but ideas and concepts, reality is parallel yet different depends on your prespective.

I think that the writer of the blog should be supported.

We "the people" have the right to question and to understand, if the monarchy wants to cut off our awareness and wants to be our shepherd, they have no right.

As the old the saying goes "The people voice is the voice of god"


Posted by: SAM

@Doug, it is not insulting or worthy of punishment to say that we are. This is a public forum where everyone is expressing their views; my view is that it is unrealistic and naive to say that we are all equal, given world history, the present and a simple look around you. Freedom and equality are two totally different concepts; I wholley support the first, but not the latter.

Posted by: Anonymous

My Dear Sam, here is a saying that is praise worthy.

"Inside every Cynical Person , is a disappointed Idealist"

Think about it.

Posted by: Doug

But SAM, even if we accept your belief that we are not all equal, do you think it is insulting or worthy of punishment to say that we are?

Posted by: SAM

@Anonymous, No, we are not all equal; we never were and never will be. Not realizing that means either you are too young or living in fantasy land. The article itself does not interest me.

Posted by: Rebecca Byfield

This is the very reason I chose NOT to practice my journalism during 6 years living in the Kingdom. Far too easy to insult someone and land yourself in jail!

Posted by: soph

religion is about peace and equality yet some how in the Kingdom this never seems to be the case. Yes this guy insulted certain institutions in the Kingdom but at the end of the day isn't that part of a democratic society and whilst I understand that this is Saudi Arabia I think the blogger and his wife are very brave and it is only with things like this story that will bring about change to a country that has such potential to be a beacon of islam and islamic societies.

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