Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was convicted of "insulting Islam" and other charges in 2014
He was sentenced 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes
Badawi received the first 50 lashes in January, and his wife says they are set to resume soon
A Saudi blogger convicted of “insulting Islam” is expected to receive the second 50 lashes of a 1,000-lash sentence soon, his wife says.
Blogger Raif Badawi has been behind bars since 2012 for his online posts and running a blog called “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” where he hosted political and religious debate and advocated secularism in a highly religious society.
His wife, Ensaf Haidar, has said Badawi created the forum in 2008 in an effort to encourage discussion about faith.
But in 2014, a Jeddah court convicted him of “insulting Islam,” handing down a 10-year prison term and ordering that Badawi be whipped 1,000 times.
The lashings are to be carried out 50 lashes at a time, 20 weeks in a row. Badawi received the first flogging in January 2015, but since then, the punishment has been pushed back several times.
In a statement published on the Raif Badawi Foundation website Tuesday, Haidar said that an “informed source” told her that Saudi authorities had approved resuming the floggings.
“The informed source also said that the flogging will resume soon but will be administered inside the prison,” Haidar said. The sentence originally called for the floggings to be carried out in public.
“It is worth mentioning that the same source had warned me of Raif’s pending flogging at the beginning of January 2015 and his warning was confirmed, as Raif was flogged on 9th January,” she said.
Haidar, who has been granted political asylum in Canada along with the couple’s three children, urged the Saudi King to show mercy.
“I call on his Majesty King Salman to gracefully end my husband’s ordeal and to pardon him. I also appeal to his Majesty to allow him to be deported to Canada to be reunited with his family and children, who have been deprived of their father for more than four years,” she said.
On Twitter, Haidar appealed to incoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help her husband. Trudeau has previously expressed support for Badawi.
Badawi’s first flogging, in January, provoked an outcry from human rights groups and Western governments.
The second flogging was delayed eight days later after doctors determined that Badawi’s injuries had not healed sufficiently for him to be flogged for the second time, Amnesty International reported.
Badawi was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years and 600 lashes, but the punishment was increased upon appeal in 2014, Human Rights Watch has said.
The sentence covers convictions for violating the kingdom’s information technology law, insulting Islam and, according to Human Rights Watch, “blasphemous phrases on his Facebook page and disobedience to his father.”
In June 2015, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the 2014 sentence, ending the appeals process.
But in her statement this week, Haidar said that a “senior source” in the Saudi Ministry of Justice had told her that the Saudi judiciary was still reviewing her husband’s case.
She also pointed to comments made by Britain’s parliamentary undersecretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs in July, in which he said he understood “the case is under consideration in the Saudi Supreme Court.”