Raif Badawi, the blogger who faced 1,000 lashes for the crimes of apostasy and insulting religious beliefs, as well as criticizing government officials and policies, may be facing a more shocking sentence: death. Badawi may be retried on the charge of apostasy, and if found guilty, a death sentence is a likely result.
Raif Badawi began carrying out his sentence in January. He was to receive 50 lashes per week until the complete sentence of 1,000 lashes had been reached. After the first 50 lashes, however, a doctor reported that Badawi had not healed enough to undergo the next round of punishment, and the second lashing was delayed.
Officials from other nations, including the U.S., spoke out to condemn the lashings, and a group of religious freedom advocates even offered to share in Badawi’s punishment, saying they’d take 100 lashes in Raif’s place.
Raif Badawi’s punishment continued to be delayed, and according to CBC News, it has now been delayed for seven weeks in a row. While this may appear to be a positive development, it may be more ominous.
In fact, Badawi may be facing more serious punishment, likely the death penalty. According to the Independent, Raif’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, received this information from officials in the criminal court system. She’s told there is a push to retry the blogger, and if he’s convicted of apostasy again, officials will sentence him to death.
The news is renewing international outcry, with protests and official condemnations of Raif Badawi’s punishments, as well as social media campaigns. At the top of this page is an image of a protest in Norway, and below is another from a protest in Ottawa, calling for Badawi to be freed and his sentence ended.
— Alex Neve (@AlexNeveAmnesty) February 27, 2015
Amnesty International is continuing to circulate their petition for Raif Badawi’s freedom and the possibility of a death sentence for the man has renewed interest. The petition is up to over 83,000 signatures as of Sunday morning, and continuing to grow. You can access it here if you’d like to add your name.
The #FreeRaif hashtag is also being spread far and wide to show support and to share information about the case.
Raif Badawi continues to remain in prison for merely expressing opinions that are not deemed acceptable to his government, and it now appears that he is at risk of being put to death for the same transgressions. Social justice groups hope that, by keeping the matter public and putting sufficient pressure on the Saudi government, they can prevent this fate and save Raif Badawi’s life.
[photo credit: Dan-Raoul Miranda]