In Brief

Raif Badawi: Saudi blogger 'to be lashed again this week'

Human rights groups warn that Badawi will receive another brutal public flogging for 'insulting Islam'

Blogger and activist Raif Badawi could receive his second public lashing tomorrow after the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia court upheld its ruling. 

Badawi was convicted in 2013 for "insulting Islam" by setting up a liberal website critical of the Kingdom's religious authorities. He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, ten years in prison and fine of one million riyals (£172,000).

The ruling was immediately condemned by the United Nations, United States, European Union, and others. The British government has been criticised for not putting enough pressure on the Saudi government, but the Foreign Office insists it has raised his case "at the most senior levels" and will "continue to do so". 

Badawi received his first 50 lashes outside a mosque in central Jeddah in January. "[I was] surrounded by a cheering crowd who cried incessantly 'Allahu Akbar' (God is greatest)," he revealed in a letter to his family. 

His second session was postponed after a doctor revealed that his wounds were so severe that they had not healed. The use of flogging has been condemned by the United Nations as "cruel and inhuman" form of punishment that can result in life-changing injuries or even death.

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International warn that authorities are preparing to carry out a second flogging tomorrow after the country's highest court upheld the ruling last week.

"After the Supreme Court's callous ruling we're now extremely worried that Raif is going to be flogged on Friday," Allan Hogarth, head of policy and government affairs at Amnesty International UK told The Independent. "It's utterly shocking to think that he could be flogged week after week until all 950 lashes have been dished out."

The group warns that Badawi's case is "just the tip of the iceberg" of the kingdom's appalling human rights record and is urging the public to take action.

But, there is no further appeal possible in the Saudi courts, says the New York Times. "At this point, Mr. Badawi's only hope lies in a pardon from King Salman bin Abdulaziz."

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