Raef Badawi, a Saudi blogger who is serving a 10-year jail term, was flogged publicly in Jeddah today, receiving the first 50 lashes of a total of 1,000 to which he has also been sentenced. Reporters Without Borders condemns this shocking sentence and again calls on the authorities to overturn it at once.
“Despite our campaign and despite yesterday’s US State Department statement calling for the flogging to be stopped, Saudi Arabia has gone ahead with this appalling punishment,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Raef Badawi’s only crime was to start a public debate on his blog about the way Saudi society is evolving, but he was given 50 lashes today before a crowd of spectators outside Jeddah’s Al-Jafali Mosque and, in all, he is to receive a total of 1,000 lashes in 20 weekly sessions. “Although the Saudi authorities have turned a deaf ear to repeated appeals from international human rights groups, Reporters Without Borders will continues its fight so that Badawi can be freed as soon as possible and be spared this inhuman retribution.” A source close to the case said that, while being driven in a police car to the mosque, Badawi thought about all those who have supported him and, while being flogged, pronounced the name of a supporter during each lash in order to give himself courage and strength.