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Saudi blogger jailed for ‘insulting Islam’ faces a new trial for apostasy, which is punishable by death

SAUDI blogger and activist, Raif Badawi, currently serving a 7-year prison term for ‘insulting Islam’, may soon appear in a higher court on graver charges of apostasy. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. free The activist’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, revealed in this report that a judge had recommended that Badawi, who was also sentences to 600 lashes, should face graver charges .

Raif Badawi is the founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, created in 2008 to freely discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia. His persecution for what was described as “insulting Islam” started the same year the site was set up.

The blogger then fled the country to escape arrest. He returned when the charges against him were dropped, but was eventually jailed in June 2012. In July this year, a criminal court in Jeddah him guilty of insulting Islam through his online forum and of violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law.

The court’s ruling was condemned by international human rights watchdogs. Said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch:

This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia’s claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue. A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Badawi’s possible retrial is the latest episode in the country’s crackdown on dissent. Four members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) were jailed in 2013.

In the most recent case in December, 24-year-old Omar al-Saeed was sentenced to four years in prison and 300 lashes after calling for political reform. Amnesty International called for the activist’s immediate release. After serving his sentence he will be prohibited from travelling for four years.

Omar al-Saeed

Omar al-Saeed

In a statement released on December 19 AI said:

Amnesty International considers Omar al-Hamid al-Saeed to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his peaceful activities as a member of ACPRA and calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and conditionally release him and to ensure that he is not subjected to flogging or any other corporal punishment.

Earlier, the watchdog criticised Saudi Arabia for failing to follow up on any of its promises to improve the country’s human rights record. The pledges were made following a 2009 review, issued by the UN Human Rights Council. Philip Luther, Director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said in October:

Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression.

Amnesty’s criticism however did not prevent Saudi Arabia from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council in November. Its three-year term in UNHRC starts January 1, 2014.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

12 Responses to “Saudi blogger jailed for ‘insulting Islam’ faces a new trial for apostasy, which is punishable by death”

  1. Angela_K says:

    The joys of living in a theocratic dictatorship controlled by the religion of violence and murder: Islam.

    The West needs Saudi Oil and money so while there may be some harrumphing, nothing will happen and the West will continue their toadying.

  2. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Angela_K, i fear you are correct. These people will be allowed to be forgotten just so that we can carry on our lifestyles.

  3. Michael Glass says:

    Instead of cursing the darkness, help to light a candle. Join the Amnesty International campaign to free Raif Badawi! The link is http://www.amnesty.org/en/raif-badawi

  4. barriejohn says:

    Interesting comment from Chatham House spokesman on BBC News this morning, re the assassination of Sunni ex-minister Mohamad Chatah in Beirut: People like Assad lock up bloggers and assassinate moderate critics, but free terrorists because it suits their political ends.

    Re the Saudis: They aren’t even going to buy aircraft from us anyway, so why do we suck up to them?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25461884

  5. A very disturbing development. I have reblogged this with information on how to write to the Saudi Embassy in London (for those of you in the UK as the Amnesty campaign link given above seems to be out of date.

    Please go to: http://howiescorner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/saudi-blogger-faces-possible-death.html

    Human rights always come before religious rights!

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    I just got back from a protest march of perhaps 1,000 – 1,500 Muslims who object to their religion being distorted by extremists.

    Ha ha, just kidding, Muslims only turn out when someone draws the wrong cartoon, they are utterly silent when men and women are beaten, jailed and put to death. Priorities.

  7. charlie says:

    Islam and most every other religion tends to insult me. Maybe I should be able to lock up those who offend/insult me. Oh, wait, that will never do, I am one of the vile non-believers, my human/civil rights mean zero to them.
    Organized religion, THE worst invention of humanity, ever.

  8. charlie says:

    additional comment.
    A psychologist once told me that as long as you could laugh at yourself, you were still sane. That implies, to me any way, that organized religion is insane. We all know that the big three, at the very least, are way out of touch with reality.

  9. andym says:

    To be fair, Charlie, there are people in our C of E who can laugh at themselves and take a joke. And some liberal Rabbis aren’t exactly unknown for their self-deprecating humour. But these are people who are probably on the agnostic wing of belief, if not even further away.

    Fundamentalism on the other hand, could be defined by its inability to respond anything but offensively to jibes. I’ve often wondered where you draw a line between the two. Maybe it’s how they respond to ridicule.

  10. Anneke Barnard says:

    Islam is a religion of murderers. If any country in this world want to work towards a safer world for all, they should ban all organised religion to be forced down on people.

  11. 1859 says:

    Saudi Arabia is like a fake chocolate cake – with sweet, modernistic, very pretty democratic icing and whipped cream spread evenly over the outside, while covering layers of fascist bigotry and repression by a ruling monarchist elite that practices arbitary justice and summary execution of opponents. And, at the very heart of this wonderful cake, a mysogenist religion of hate, intolerance and suspicion – a religion, moreover, that is used by the ruling elite to justify their regime of repression.

    I can’t wait for the day that an abundant source of energy is discovered which does not rely on oil.