Flogging of Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia ‘vicious act of cruelty’
A witness has confirmed to Amnesty International that the flogging of Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi took place this morning after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.
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.
“The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“By ignoring international calls to cancel the flogging Saudi Arabia’s authorities have demonstrated an abhorrent disregard for the most basic human rights principles. Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience; his only ‘crime’ was to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for public discussion. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam.
The full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.
“It is appalling that 19 weeks of flogging await Raif Badawi over the coming months. Saudi Arabia’s authorities must act immediately to halt all further floggings,” said Said Boumedouha.
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