Raif Badawi Reprieve: Jailed Saudi Blogger Granted Another Reprieve From Public Lashing

January 30, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Raif Badawi’s reprieve from flogging is the positive headline emerging from Saudi Arabia today. Badawi, a blogger and founder of the now-deleted Free Saudi Liberal website, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. After receiving the first 50 lashes on January 9, he was granted a reprieve because doctors confirmed that his body had not recovered from the beating. Human rights groups like Amnesty International have been actively trying to bring Badawi’s story to the spotlight, hoping to get his case appealed.

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi’s reprieve from flogging for the third time, has lead to the following question: Will Amnesty International be able to free him? Saudi Arabian authorities had sentenced Raif Badawi, a blogger to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and more than $260,000 in fines.

Badawi, a father of three and the founder of Free Saudi Liberal website, was supposed to get 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks. He was originally sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, but after losing his appeal, a Jeddah court increased the sentence.

So, what were Raif Badawi’s crimes? Badawi has been accused of insulting Islam and adopting liberal thought via the site he launched in 2008. The Saudi Arabian blogger’s harsh punishment has been condemned by political figures and human rights groups around the world, but that has not stopped his flogging.

On January 9th, Raif Badawi received 50 lashes in the city of Jiddah. The floggings scheduled for January 16 and January 23 were postponed after medical experts deemed that Raif Badawi’s body had not sufficiently recovered from the first 50 lashes.

On Friday, Raif Badawi got another temporary reprieve from being flogged, but this time around, no explanation was given. Could it be that Amnesty International’s campaign to free Badawi is effective? Kate Allen who is a spokesperson for Amnesty certainly hopes so. Allen explained:

“Though we don’t yet know why this week’s lashes were called off, we do know that this ordeal is having a terrible toll on Raif and his long-suffering family.The Saudi authorities need to end this whole sadistic process and definitively announce that Raif will not be subjected to any more lashings and indeed that he’ll be freed from his 10-year jail sentence.”

Raef Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has fled to Canada with the couple’s three children, is pleading with the international community to help her husband. The concerned spouse told local media:

“Raef’s health condition is bad and it’s getting worse. I am very concerned about him. It is impossible for a human being to withstand 50 lashes every week.”

There is another glimmer of hope for Raif Badawi, while the late Saudi King Abdullah did not interfere in his case, his successor Saudi King Salman has plans to pardon numerous “public right” prisoners including Badawi.

Raif Badawi’s reprieve is a hopeful sign for his supporters.

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