Friday, January 30, 2015
CNN Hot News - Saudi blogger faces more lashes
The US, Britain and other western governments had all called for the punishment to be dropped but there has been no sign of any diplomatic action against Riyadh. Amnesty International on Wednesday urged the UK government to challenge Saudi Arabia, which has ignored all protests over the case.
Badawi will be given 50 more lashes outside a mosque in his home city of Jeddah unless a Saudi prison doctor determines he is not yet fit to face the punishment owing to injuries sustained last Friday. If nothing changes, he will be flogged every Friday for the next 19 weeks.
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who is now in Canada, has said she fears he may not be able to physically withstand a second round. “Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor,” she told Amnesty. “I told our children about the news last week so that they would not find out about it from friends at school. It is a huge shock for them. International pressure is crucial; I believe if we keep up the support it will eventually pay off.”
The first floggings attracted huge attention and anger because they followed the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris and intense discussion of the freedom of expression and Muslim sensitivities about portraying the prophet Muhammad. Saudi Arabia publicly condemned the killings.
British ministers “rightly celebrate free speech in Paris or in London but suddenly seem to lose their own power of utterance when it comes to forthrightly and publicly condemning the authorities in Riyadh,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director. “Why do ministers keep wearing the Saudi muzzle? It seriously weakens the UK’s credibility if it’s seen to tone everything down when it comes to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.”
Liberal Saudis have been taken aback at the way the case has been handled. “A lot of people are surprised that this took place immediately after the killings in Paris,” one Saudi analyst told the Guardian. “It’s not good PR for the kingdom. OK, this is not flogging with a cat o’nine tails, but there is a lot of disappointment.
“The theory is that the government is doing this to send a message to hardliners that they are cracking down on everybody, not just religious extremists. But that’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. These people are liberals who want stability and progress but reform as well. They love their country. They don’t hide.”
In recent months the authorities have cracked down on extremist Muslim clerics and other supporters of jihadi groups, including the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq. The government supports the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad but no longer permits financial support to extremist groups fighting him.
Badawi’s sentence stems from his creation of the website Free Saudi Liberals, now closed, which he envisaged as a forum for political and social debate.