Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger for the Free Saudi Liberals website, was sentenced to 7 years prison and 600 lashes for ‘insulting Islam.’ The father of three was also originally charged with apostasy, which is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
However, according to the Jewish Press, in 2013 the court dropped the apostasy charge and in May 2014, the Saudi Court of Appeal, instead imposed a sentence, of 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a one-million dollar fine. Badawi’s punishment calls for 50 floggings per week until a total of 1,000 lashes are received. CorPun.com defines flogging as a physical punishment in which a whip, cane, or leather strap is used to strike a victim on the buttocks or from the neck to ankles. The punisher strikes with full force.
Fox News reports that Badawi received his first round of lashes two weeks ago. His second round, scheduled for last week, was postponed because wounds from the previous beating had not yet healed.
Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa program, Boumedouha, said in a statement last week "Not only does this postponement on health grounds expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity.” Boumedouha added "The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous. Flogging should not be carried out under any circumstances. Flogging is prohibited under international law along with other forms of corporal punishment.”
Members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have drafted a letter to Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the U.S, condemning the punishment of Badawi as a ‘grave injustice.’ Jewish Press reports that the USCIRF asks in its letter “If your government will not remit the punishment of Raif Badawi, we respectfully ask that you permit each of us to take 100 of the lashes that would be given to him.”
Currently, Badawi’s fate remains unknown. The BBC reports that his case has been referred to the Supreme Court by the king's office.