Harsher sentence imposed on Badawi

Harsher sentence imposed on Badawi

In July 2013 human rights activist Raif Badawi was sentenced in Saudi Arabia to seven years in jail, and 600 lashes, for insulting Islam. His sentence has now been increased to ten years and 1,000 lashes.

Badawi, founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, was convicted of “creating a website insulting Islam” and criticising the role of the notorious religious police. Before his arrest, Badawi’s network announced a “Day of Liberalism” and called for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia. He has been languishing in jail since June 2012.

According to this report, the lawsuit against him was instigated by Saudi  by clerics. An appeals court overturned the original sentence and sent the case back for the case back for retrial, which culminated in an even harsher sentence.

On Monday a court upheld the 10-year jail sentence and 1,000 lashes – also ordered him to pay a fine of one million riyals ($266,666).

The rights group’s co-founder, Souad Al Shamari said:

The only hope now is an amnesty from the king or a swift move by the justice minister to form a fair judicial committee. Even the worst terrorists have not received such a harsh sentence.

Michael De Dora, Director of The Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy and the US organisation’s representative to the UN, wrote here:

To make matters worse, the Saudi government also jailed Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Sami Abu Al-Khair, for his human rights activism (we are now also working for his freedom). That left Badawi to defend himself in a criminal justice system that is already stacked against ‘offenders’.

And defend himself he has. Badawi has shown remarkable resilience in the face of a powerful monarchy doing everything it can to crush his morale.

This week, however, we received perhaps our worst news yet: the Saudi appeals court in Mecca confirmed Badawi’s sentence. This means Badawi’s sentence is final, and that Saudi officials could begin to impose lashes on Badawi within several weeks. According to the final decision, Badawi will receive 50 lashes per session, with a break of no less than a week between sessions.

The lashings will be carried out in public after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

Meanwhile, it is reported here that in Saudi Arabia – “a country known as the cradle of Islam, where religion gives legitimacy to the government and state-appointed clerics set rules for social behavior” – a growing number of Saudis are privately declaring themselves atheists.

Said Fahad AlFahad, 31, a marketing consultant and human rights activist:

I know at least six atheists who confirmed that to me. Six or seven years ago, I wouldn’t even have heard one person say that. Not even a best friend would confess that to me.

A Saudi journalist in Riyadh has observed the same trend.

The idea of being irreligious and even atheist is spreading because of the contradiction between what Islamists say and what they do.

The perception that atheism is no longer a taboo subject – at least two Gulf-produced television talk shows recently discussed it – may explain why the government has made talk of atheism a terrorist offence. A March 7 decree from the Ministry of Interior prohibited, among other things:

Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.

The number of people willing to admit to friends to being atheist or to declare themselves atheist online, usually under aliases, is certainly not big enough to be a movement or threaten the government. A 2012 poll by WIN-Gallup International of about 500 Saudis found that 5 percent described themselves as “convinced atheist.” This was well below the global average of 13 percent.

But the greater willingness to privately admit to being atheist reflects a general disillusionment with religion and what one Saudi called “a growing notion” that religion is being misused by authorities to control the population. This disillusionment is seen in a number of ways, ranging from ignoring clerical pronouncements to challenging and even mocking religious leaders on social media.

18 responses to “Harsher sentence imposed on Badawi”

  1. Michael Glass says:

    The Saudi clerics, by their intransigence and their cruelty, are creating the very thing that they hate and fear the most: the trashing of their religious beliefs.

  2. AgentCormac says:

    The peddlers of religion cannot win the argument through reason or evidence, so once again they fall back on brutality and intimidation. They know as well as the people they persecute that religion is utterly baseless and that those who promote it do so merely to enlarge their own power and wealth.

  3. Broga says:

    Saudi Arabia: Isn’t Prince Charles on excellent terms with the Saudis. He is concerned about Christian and Muslim relations. If he has any decency or kindness he should speak out against this barbaric treatment for exercising free speech. Or does Charles’ concerns not extend as far as atheists?

  4. AgentCormac says:


    Charles won’t take this issue up with his Saudi friends – Britain makes far too much money out of selling weapons to these barbarians to warrant worrying about such a trivial matter as human rights.

  5. Paul Cook says:

    Aren’t the weapons we sell used to keep in check those human rights?

  6. barriejohn says:

    The reason why Saudi Arabia remains above criticism, whatever it does:

    “The Dove” – hahahahaha

  7. L.Long says:

    So once again the religion of peace & love is punishing someone for telling the truth. Hey that aint much different than USA gov’mint either!!!
    Over there you are insulting a belief in an imaginary friend, in the USA they just call you a traitor.

  8. Broga says:

    The “crime” of insulting Islam is ironic. What greater insult to Islam could there be than witnessing this barbaric sentence being imposed at the behest of its grisly religious mafia.

  9. Brogue Heely says:

    Saudi Arabia…only by virtue of their unearned oil wealth is this pox of a country able to weild influence. If it had no oil it would be unable to exert any power and be unable to make any contribution to worthwhile human endeavours such as engineering, science, technology, pharmaceuticals, music, literature…..when the oil runs out or when the west develops alternative technology SA will return to a fly blown sand ridden primitive society. The wealthy fat arsed rulers of SA are shit scared of voices of reason and the threat to their unearned and undeserved wealth and presteige.

  10. Paul Cook says:

    @brouge healey you are wrong – it is only because of the Arabs that we have many Greek atheist texts. If it weren’t for the Arabs open mindedness all those years ago, keeping these texts, much, if not all, would be lost or destroyed by the early christain monsters in control of everyone’s lives in the so called civilised world – which of course it wasn’t – burning people alive etc. believing the world was flat and the centre of the universe In the Dark Ages.

    It is only because of the Arabs that we have these early Greek writings on their thoughts on atomism and many other brilliant (aethist texts) such as writings and thoughts that the world went around the sun!

  11. Newspaniard says:

    @Brogue Heely, you are absolutely right, @Paul Cook is off his chump. The Arabs he is talking about bear no relationship to the barbaric savages currently running Saudi Arabia. The only similarity is their bloodlines which has been totally corrupted by what they call their “religion”. The sooner they run out of oil the better it will be for the rest of the world.

  12. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry to go OT, but it seems that children in England and Wales will now be required to study two religions instead of just one. How about NO bloody religions!

  13. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: Or they could study something like stoicism which would do them some good when they hit the hard patches of life. The Stoicism Today site offers free courses for teachers.

  14. barriejohn says:

    How about the teaching of logic in our schools? I’ve been a proponent of this for years now. What possible argument could there be against it? Oh, wait a minute…

  15. Paul Cook says:

    @ Broga

    the students could only study Stoicism because of the retention of their writing by those awful Arabs newsspaniard absolutely hates.

    I have to agree with his logic. All 20 million Saudis are clearly ALL the same. I am just off to smash in the face of my German neighbour as he is clearly a closet Nazi.

  16. Rob Andrews says:

    I write letters on behalf of political prisoners and victims of torture for Amnesty International. Ralf Badawi is one of the cases we are working on now. If you’ld like to help out go to our website at In the search box type in: ‘Raif Badawi’.

    This will take you to the Urgen Action appeal on his behalf. There you will find names of saudi officials to write to. As well as suggestions on what to say in the letters.

    Many people say:”What good is one letter?” it’s the volumn of letters that gets peoiple freed.

  17. AgentCormac says:

    @Rob Andrews

    Well done – Amnesty does some amazing work and it’s people like you who help it gets results. I did as you suggested, following the link and searching for Raif Badawi, but it took some digging to find the page you mentioned. So if anybody else would like to write to the SA authorities,clicking on the following might save you a bit of time:

  18. Marky Mark says:

    “The lashings will be carried out in public after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.”

    …that says it all; “If you don’t believe we will beat it into you, and if that don’t work we’ll just kill you…praise Alla!”