Flogging for Blogging
The case of the Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes has caught the attention of Western media. Free speech advocates are criticizing the actions of the Saudi Arabian government.
The case of Raif Badawi has received significant attention
According to the BBC, the second round of public flogging for Raif Badawi was delayed as his case has been referred to the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia, reported USA Today. Raif Badawi was sentenced to a total of 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam on his popular website, "Saudi Liberal Network." Badawi received 50 lashes last week, and is scheduled to receive 50 more each Friday.
Reuters noted that the political relevance of Badawi's case has been heightened by the Paris attack on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Islamists have been angered by the publishing and republishing of cartoons featuring the prophet. While some media outlets have opted not to reproduce the cartoons for fear of an attack, others argued that for the sake of defending free speech expression, Western media should not back down.
Lashings for speaking one's mind
Badawi was arrested in 2012 in Jeddah on charges of "going beyond the realm of obedience" and "insulting Islam through electronic channels." Lashings are a common form of punishment in Saudi Arabia and Amnesty International indicated that Badawi had been taken from his cell for a medical check-up – which resulted in the postponement of his second round of lashings, reported USA Today.
"The doctor concluded that the wounds had not yet healed properly and that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time," said Amnesty International, according to the news source. "He recommended that the flogging should be postponed until next week. It is unclear whether the authorities will fully comply with this demand."
Badawi's case has also had negative repercussions for his family. Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, fled to Canada with their three children in the hopes of escaping further persecution from the government or other citizens of the Kingdom, reported USA Today.
A little bit of hope for Badawi
Reuters reported that Badawi felt hope when he learned that his case had been referred to the Supreme Court. He is hopeful that perhaps this is a sign that the authorities want to end his punishment.
According to The Telegraph, a video of the flogging emerged, that showed Badawi being struck in the head in front of a large crowd, reported USA Today.
"Raif told me he is in a lot of pain," said Haidar, according to the news source. "He said that when he was being flogged he took the pain silently and rose above it, so that history will know that he did not react to their punishment."
It is noteworthy to mention that a Saudi court in Jeddah ordered Badawi's website to be permanently closed. It is sad to see that there are places in the world where speaking one's mind can result in such severe punishment. Perhaps it is a reminder for people who live in countries with freedom of expression to stay grateful.