The Guardian reports today that Raif Badawi 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.
Raif Badawi’s feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out. Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He had criticised 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.
Amnesty International report that:
‘Everyone could see his face… A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him. Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain.
‘The officer beat Raif on his back and legs, counting the lashes until they reached 50. When it was over, the crowd shouted, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!” – as if Raif had been purified.’
Saudi authorities now plan to go through this same routine every week after Friday prayers for a total of 20 weeks, until Raif has been dealt 1,000 lashes – all because he advocated free speech.
Just last week Saudi Authorities condemned the Charlie Hebdo killers saying it was a “cowardly terrorist attack that was rejected by the true Islamic religion”. The Saudi ambassador to France even attended the Unity march in Paris yesterday. A March organised to ‘stand up for Free Speech’.
It seems that the Saudi’s believe that it is fine for free speech to take place outside of Saudi Arabia but that that right is not to be extended to their own citizens.
It seems remarkable that Western Governments are so quiet on the atrocities committed by the barbaric Saudi Government. Just last August the Independent reported that The Saudi’s beheaded 19 people in public executions in just two weeks. Offences that resulted in the Saudi Arabian death penalties in August ranged from drug smuggling and sorcery. Four men were beheaded for smuggling cannabis and reports suggest that confessions were beaten out of them.
Despite the widespread human rights abuses, the regime is not short of international support. In the last few weeks alone it has hosted state visits by Barack Obama and Prince Charles, the latter was visiting to finalise an arms deal for BAE Systems and even took part in a traditional Saudi sword dance. The day after Prince Charles’ recent visit, seven Saudi citizens were jailed for 20 years for protesting against the regime.
The UK sells arms worth £ Billions to Saudi Arabia every year and the closeness of the relationship between the countries is built on Oil and Arms sales. It seems that Human rights abuses, the beheading of your own citizens and widespread use of torture is perfectly acceptable provided you continue to buy the means to kill people from the UK.
The UK should hang it’s head in shame.