Saudi Blogger Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison and 1,000 Lashes for Insulting Islam

CNN reports that Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam. Badawi appealed his 2013 conviction and ended up with one that was even worse. His 2013 conviction was for 7 years in prison and 600 lashes. Now he gets three more years in prison and 400 more lashes. CNN says the penalty also includes a 1 million riyal fine, which equals about $267,000 U.S.

Ensaf Haider, wife of Raif Badawi, tells CNN, "This is terrible news and I'm absolutely shocked and devastated by it. How is it possible they could take a sentence that was already so harsh and make it even harsher? Ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes? That's unimaginable. I'm extremely scared for my husband."

Al Jazeera reports Badawi was initially arrested for setting up a social network where people could discussion religion and its dominance over public life in the country. The website is called Saudi Arabian Liberals. Saudi clerics did not like the site and filed a lawsuit against him.

Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, says in a statement, "The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is outrageous. He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally."

Posted on May 8, 2014

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