Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged today [January 9] in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of founding an online forum for public debate and for “insulting Islam.”
According to witnesses, the 30-year-old, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail last year, was reportedly lashed 50 times today outside a mosque in Jeddah, after Friday prayers. He will continue to be flogged every week until his punishment is met.
The sentence, was caused an international outcry, also includes a 1 million Saudi Riyal fine (roughly US dollars $260,000).
Saudi lawyer Waleed Abulkhair's Twitter account, with 78.3K followers, confirmed the news:
جرى بالفعل جلد رائف بدوي قبل قليل في محافظة جدة أمام جمع من الناس بعد صلاة الجمعة ووسط ترديد بعضهم: الله أكبر ..
— وليد أبوالخير (@WaleedAbulkhair) January 9, 2015 
Raif Badawi has indeed been flogged today in Jeddah, in front of people, after the Friday prayers. Some of those gathered chanted: Allah Akbar (God is Great)
Abulkhair, the head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, has been in prison in for nine months now, and his account is being run by friends.
On Facebook, Kacem El Ghazzali shares a photograph of the Jeddah mosque where the flogging allegedly took place:
The post attracted angry comments. This commentator writes:
Hands down one of the stupidest countries on Earth. Just being there makes you feel like you've entered some sort of wasteland from The Dark Ages with Skyscrapers.
A very sad and dark moment, I can not even fathom the unbearable pain he must withstand, helpless in the hands of these psychopaths.
On Twitter, supporters, from Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world, spoke up against the punishment. Dohan Alsalem says Badawi's name has now been immortalised.
الا يعرفون انهم خلدوا اسمة في التاريخ!! #جلد_رائف_بدوي 
— Dohan (@DohanAlsalem) January 9, 2015 
Don't they realise that they have now immortalised his name in history!!
Hilda Ismail, from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, tweets to her 22.6K followers:
— ღ..هيـــلدا (@Hildaismail) January 9, 2015 
Those of you who did not feel the pain with every lash Raif Badawi recieved today on his body are not humans.
Sigh my country.
Tounsia Hourra [Free Tunisian] adds:
فقط للتذكير، من ينتقد داعش التي تقطع الرؤوس وتجلد الناس ويأتون بالأطفال ليتفرجوا، هم الآن يبررون جلد شخص في السعودية. دواعش يا أخي دواعش.
— tounsiahourra (@tounsiahourra) January 9, 2015 
Just a reminder: Those who criticise the ISIS, which beheads and flogs people, and lines up children to watch, are the ones who are making excuses for the flogging of a man in Saudi Arabia. They are all ISIS.
Many pointed fingers to how Western countries continue to support Saudi Arabia, despite its atrocious human rights record.
Marietje Schaake, Member of European Parliament, tells her 30.1K followers on Twitter:
— Marietje Schaake (@MarietjeSchaake) January 9, 2015 
From the UK, Daniel Wickham reminds his 1,700 followers on Twitter about Saudi Arabia's arms deals with his country:
Today, Saudi Arabia, the number one recipient of British-made arms in the world, flogged a man for setting up a liberal website. #FreeRaif 
— Daniel Wickham (@DanielWickham93) January 9, 2015 
And Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International Hassiba HadjSahraoui points out the obvious — “Saudi getting a free pass as always.”
Sheer madness. Flogging of Raif Badawi taking place right now in Saudi Arabia. Flogging for writing. And Saudi getting a free pass as always
— Hassiba HadjSahraoui (@HassibaHS) January 9, 2015