Raif Badawi, the atheist imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy, has had his sentence made even worse than it already was. This comes only a few days after the Center for Inquiry held a protest at the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC.
Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to quash the outrageous sentencing today of Raif Badawi in connection with an online forum for public debate he set up and accusations that he insulted Islam.
Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about US$266,631) by Jeddah’s Criminal Court.
“The decision to sentence Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes is outrageous. He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia. The authorities seem determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists.”
He was originally sentenced to 7 years in prison and 600 lashes, but that verdict was overturned and sent to another court for an even harsher punishment. I would hate to think that this was done in reaction to the protests on his behalf. That would be doubly tragic.