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Tue 13 Aug 2013 08:16 AM

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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”

Saudi blogger sentenced to 600 lashes not hopeful about appeal - lawyer
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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Saif ul Islam 6 years ago

Disgusting....In this day and age, to be persecuted for one's beliefs and tortured....this is simply not on...........this is truly more barbaric and worse than the dark ages. No religion permits, encourages or condones this type of barbarism.......

Qandy 6 years ago

Buddhists don't seem to be draggigng the "Buddha Bar" chain founders to court, and somehow christians found thier peace with Jay Leno making jokes about the crusifix and/or his representatives in the Vatican, almost every week...I think a little bit of humor & lesser bit of self righteousness wouldn't hurt the dignitiy of a 1500 year old glorious religion.

Non-Muslim 6 years ago

In what year are we now?

Notwithstanding any due respect for other cultures, but this kind of justice is simply utterly disgraceful!

Danny 6 years ago

This writer and lawyer Al Khair and Al Badawi (blogger) thinks that being liberal gives license to insult islam. They don't realize that to be liberal and to be insulting is absolutely different things.

RAH 6 years ago

Though it may seem like a harsh punishment, but one needs t consider his writings "he wrote on the website that “Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists are all equal”".

If anything, this goes againt the country's Quran which states Islam is God's religion and He would like to see more follow it where people pray and worship the One Creator alone and no one else but Him.

For this guy to say we are equal, equal with what? In value of human life? Yes. Equal in belief? No. If we were equal in belief, we wouldnt end up having so many religions and cults and beliefs.

He probably would have been better off explaining himself better from the onset AND should have stayed away from slandering the Kingdom's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. None of us like this committee (I am one of them) BUT I wouldnt go online insulting them. It's like I am asking for trouble.

His doings and his actions. He'll need to deal with the consequences like any adult.

Mohammed 6 years ago

I respect this man liberal views, he respects humanity and other religions, this what a true Muslim should be. As for his sentence this was expected from a country like Saudi Arabia

soph 6 years ago

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.

Danny 6 years ago

Justice and Punishments in this region and Islam is clearly known to everybody, it is not hidden or concealed. And after knowing everything also a person commits a act which is punishable. then how can you comment on justice ?

Bill 6 years ago

And you prove how backward your religion is.

Rebecca Byfield 6 years ago

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!