A Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jeddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators, a witness to the lashing said.
The witness said Raif Badawi’s feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out, said the witness, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity fearing government reprisal.
Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He had criticized Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded. The blog has since been shut down. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 1m riyals or about $266,600.
Rights activists say Saudi authorities are using Badawi’s case as a warning to others who think to criticise the kingdom’s powerful religious establishment from which the ruling family partly derives its authority.
London-based Amnesty International said he would receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks. The US, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, has called on authorities to cancel the punishment.
Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque. His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness.
|The second-largest holder of voting stock in News Corp. is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king.|
|Despite the differences between the two countries—an ultraconservative Islamic absolute monarchy, and a secular, democratic republic—the two countries have been allies. In recent years, the two countries have occasionally been described as having a Special Relationship with one another. U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and current president, Barack Obama have strong and close relations with senior members of the Saudi Royal Family.|