Internet blogger Raif Badawi, who had been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for insulting Islam, found a new ray of hope after the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to intervene on January 16 and refer the case to the Supreme Court. Giving in to massive international pressure, King Abdullah decided to intervene even though the Saudi government has refused to issue an official statement as yet.
After Saudi Arabia was accused of outrageous inhumanity on Friday for delaying Badawi’s flogging because his wounds from the previous session of flogging had not yet healed, Abdullah thought it best to pass on the case to the country’s highest court. Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three, has garnered support from human rights organizations and foreign governments after being accused of insulting Islam and criticizing Saudi Arabia’s influential Sunni clerics on his blog. For the next 18 weeks, he is expected to receive 50 lashes every Friday.
According to Amnesty International, which has adopted Badawi as a prisoner of conscience, he was taken from his prison cell in Jeddah to a doctor for a routine medical examination. The doctor reported Badawi’s wounds from the first set of 50 lashes delivered last week had not healed yet and so the second set of 50 lashes could not be delivered as scheduled. He recommended the flogging be delayed until next week.
“Not only does this postponement expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity,” stated the organization’s Said Boumedouha. “The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous.”
A leaked video clipping of the first session of flogging is believed to have revealed Badawi shackled and standing while being hit on his legs and back by a police official.
Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haider, who has reportedly fled to Canada with the three children, said all her husband did was start a forum where people could discuss Islam.
“Every lash killed me,” she said after watching the video clip of Badawi being flogged.
According to the United Nations, flogging violates international law as an unusual and cruel punishment.