The wife of a Saudi Arabian blogger who was handed down a sentence of 1,000 lashes for the crime of “insulting Islam” said the crowds that gathered to watch the punishment were “cheering like they were at a beach party.”
This is the religion of peace, right? The one that supposedly extends charity and love to all.
Not so much for Raif Badawi, 33, who was arrested in 2012 for blog posts about freedom of speech — and who was then deemed an enemy of Islam and sentenced to 10 years in prison and to 1,000 lashes.
His treatment shows just how easy it is to go from friend to foe in Islam.
Badawi, 33, was sentenced to ten years in prison and corporal punishment in 2014, and the first 50 of his lashes – which his wife says nearly killed him – was filmed.
She is now petitioning for the newly-instated Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to pardon her husband, urging Saudi-ally UK and Prime Minister Theresa May to put pressure on the Arab state.
Ensaf Haidar, who fled to Canada with the couple’s three children in 2013, tweeted the video from 2015 of her husband being flogged publicly this week.
‘This crowd is not a beach party, it’s how moderate Muslims act when they flog someone for expressing his own opinions,’ she wrote.
Ms Haidar has been campaigning tirelessly to secure her husband’s release, setting up the Raif Badawi Foundation to raise awareness of the case.
The first 50 of the 1,000 lashes Mr Badawi faces were administered in 2015, but following punishments has had to be postponed due to his health.
Ms Haidar says the 50 lashes nearly killed her husband, who suffers from high blood pressure.
She adds that the family have no idea how he is doing or when he is going to be flogged again.
‘We have not heard anything from Raif or from Saudi Arabia, but we know that he will face further punishment – we are not told when,’ Ms Haidar told MailOnline.
‘We urge the newly crowned Prince Mohammed Ben Salman to pardon Raif and prevent the 950 lashings being carried out as this is putting Raif’s life at risk.
‘We also ask why the government in the UK – an ally of Saudi Arabia – remains silent, and that Prime Minister Theresa May uses her good relationship with Saudi Arabia to work for Raif’s immediate release and send him back home to Canada to his family.’
Ms Haidar hopes that the recent crowning of a new second-in line to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may help her husband’s case.
The Crown Prince, 32 – the youngest defence minister in the world – is known for his efforts to modernise Saudi Arabia, and for promoting social media and internet connectivity.
Since his ascent, the powers of country’s feared religious police have been curbed, and non-religious musical concerts are now allowed.
His ‘Vision 2030’ plan for the country promises to build a ‘tolerant and thriving country in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions.
Mr Badawi founded website Free Saudi Liberals and called for free speech and was first detained in 2008, but released after questioning.
He was arrested again in June 2012, and charged with ‘insulting Islam through electronic channels’ before his conviction in 2014.
In December 2015, the European Parliament gave Badawi the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
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