Saudi Arabia has upheld the verdict passed on 31-year-old blogger Raif Badawi on May 7, 2014, of 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison despite international pressure, the BBC reports. Raif received his first 50 lashes earlier this year in front of hundreds of spectators in Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia. The case was sent to review, but the Saudi supreme court declined to commute or waive his sentence.
International anger has been raised by the blogger’s vicious sentence, with protests being held around the world. Such protests have taken several forms, from a Princeton professor and colleagues volunteering to take some of Raif’s lashes in his place, to an Indian cartoonist creating a cartoon for each of the 50 lashes the blogger suffers.
The blogger could still yet face an even worse fate, public execution for apostasy, which carries an automatic death sentence in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Inquisitr reported on claims made by Raif’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, that there was a push to retry him on the charge, which had previously been dropped. Haidar is currently living in Canada with her and Raif’s children after claiming asylum. Following the decision, she took to Twitter to speak her feelings. Other Twitter users have also expressed support for the blogger.
My Kids They did not stop crying after hearing bad news today! what i can do i ask the world! #FreeRaif
— رائف بدوي (@raif_badawi) June 7, 2015
— Bethan Loves Books (@Woodlandbookshp) June 4, 2015
I’m a good Muslim. I get angry when women in France are not allowed to wear the burqa. But a blogger getting 1000 lashes? Nah… #FreeRaif
— Bora (@soyoubora) June 7, 2015
The blogger’s crime was running a website known as the Liberal Saudi Network, which he ran for four years, according to the BBC. In 2014, he was sentenced for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is classed by many as one of the worst in the world, with Raif not being the first Saudi blogger to be imprisoned. In 2008, blogger Fouad al-Farhan was held for over four months without charge.
Despite the widespread pressure from the public, David Nichols, an Amnesty International executive for EU foreign policy told The Independent that nothing was being done, despite ministers from the EU saying they would raise Badawi’s case with Saudi Arabia.
“There is no evidence of that taking place,” he told the newspaper. Nichols added “There are quite clearly many different interests at play, not just with Saudi Arabia, but with all countries in the Gulf – concerns such as energy, such as trade, but also on counter-terror cooperation as well.”
Canada have also pledged that they will make their position clear. Speaking to CBC, a Foreign Affairs spokesman said that protection of human rights is of high importance to the country.
“The promotion and protection of human rights are an integral part of Canada’s foreign-affairs policy. Although Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, we will continue to make our position known publicly and through diplomatic channels.”
The Saudi supreme court may have upheld the verdict passed on the young blogger, but there are many around the world who want to see it torn down – time will tell whether they will be vindicated.