Reporters Without Borders is relieved that the Saudi authorities have postponed blogger Raif Badawi’s second session of 50 lashes on medical grounds but is very concerned about his health and urges the authorities to abandon this barbaric punishment altogether because it could prove fatal.
Sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes last November, the young blogger was due to receive the second round of 50 lashes after Friday prayers today but the doctor who examined him this morning decided that he could not endure more flogging for the time being because he has not recovered from the first session a week ago.The second session has therefore been postponed until next Friday. “Saudi Arabia can do longer deny the gravity of this flogging, a barbaric punishment that is contrary to international law,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “In view of Badawi’s alarming condition after 50 lashes, how can the Saudi authorities envisage inflicting another 950 lashes? It is a death sentence. He would not survive. Saudi Arabia must immediately rescind this sentence to avoid doing something that cannot be undone.” The international community is showing increasing concern about Badawi’s fate. After statements by the United States, the European Union and Canada (where Badawi’s family has found refuge), the United Nations have now called on the Saudi authorities to stop the flogging and give Badawi a pardon. After launching a petition for Badawi’s release that has been signed by more than 30,000 people, Reporters Without Borders joined Amnesty International France in protesting outside the Saudi Embassy in Paris yesterday. An RWB representative managed to give the petition to an embassy official.