by Temitope Onitiju
Blogger and activist, Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, because he insulted Islam on the online forum in Saudi Arabia.
As part of his punishment, Badawi was lashed 50 times in public, despite calls for clemency from human right groups around the world.
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, said on Twitter that Badawi was lashed outside a mosque in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Friday.
He will receive 50 lashes every week after Friday prayers, which will continue for 20 weeks until his punishment is complete.
He was also ordered by Jeddah’s Criminal Court to pay a fine of $266,000.
Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said of the case: “It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately halt all plans to carry out this brutal sentence”