Saudi Arabia to flog activist for blasphemy on Friday: Amnesty

Western viewpoint on Saudi Arabia: Prince Charles visits and has a grand time.

(Reuters) – A liberal activist sentenced to prison and flogging in Saudi Arabia will face a first round of lashes on Friday, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Thursday.

public-flogging-PakistanPhotos of flogging in Saudi Arabia are hard to find. Here is one from Pakistan.

Raif Badawi, who set up the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with offences ranging from cyber crime to disobeying his father and apostasy, or abandoning his faith.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,666) and 1,000 lashes last year after prosecutors challenged an earlier sentence of seven years and 600 lashes as too lenient.

“Amnesty International has learned that the imprisoned Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public after Friday prayers tomorrow in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah,” the international rights group said in a statement.

It said Badawi would receive 50 lashes on Friday and the rest of the sentence would be carried out over a period of 50 weeks. His website included articles critical of senior Saudi religious figures and others from Muslim history.

A spokesman for the oil-rich Gulf kingdom’s Justice Ministry was not immediately available for comment…

Some are trying to stop it, although this article gives no further details than the Reuters report, except that he will be “lashed very severely”.  

There is an online petition at Amnesty International (I signed it) but I doubt it will do any good.  The West has already given its blessing (see top picture).