On Friday, The Saudi authorities flogged Raif Badawi the liberal blogger , activist , writer , creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals and brother of the human rights activist Samar Badawi .
his wife Mrs Ensaf Haidar who obtained political asylum with her children in Québec, Canada in 2013 after Raif been arrested ,said in her husband social media accounts that On friday after Friday prayers, he publicly flogged for the first round of 50 lashs in front of Al-Jafali mosque in the city of Jeddah, and that this will continue every Friday for 20 weeks.
Amnesty international, described what happened and we quote “According to the witness after the prayers ended Raif Badawi was removed from a bus in shackles and brought to the public square in front of the mosque. Surrounded by a crowd made up of the public and a number of security officers, he received 50 consecutive lashes on his back. The whole ordeal lasted around 15 minutes. Afterwards he was put back in the bus and taken away”. Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said “The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law” .
last year he has been accused of insulting Islam in his website “Free Saudi Liberals” and he have been handed a 7 years in prison and 600 lashes in July, but after the appeal the court in may handed him 10 years in prison , 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals ( almost $266,000). Alongside with the sentence he banned from travelling outside Saudi Arabia for 10 years and from participating in media .
After he started his website, he have been jailed in july 2012 for creating his online forum which was used to debate the liberalism in Saudi Arabia and he faced accusations of insulting Islam after he criticized Saudi clerics and their interpretation of Islam. Later his website has been shut down.
The lawyer, human rights activist and the director of the Saudi human rights monitor Waleed Abu al-Khair, Badawi’s lawyer ,is also been jailed for 15 years after being charged by an anti-terrorism court with “undermining the regime and officials”, “inciting public opinion” and “insulting the judiciary” and band from travelling for 15 years .
Raif case is part of a wider reprisal against activists in the kingdom who called for reforms after the region’s 2011 Arab Spring.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged the kingdom, to cancel the punishment in a statement by Jen Psaki saying “We are greatly concerned by reports that human rights activist Raif Badawi will start facing the inhumane punishment of a 1,000 lashes, in addition to serving a 10-year sentence in prison for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and religion. The United States Government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence. The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice.”
This video show the crowd who witness raif flogging, and the orders from the police forbidding filming the punishment.