Saudi Supreme Court: 10 Years, 1,000 Lashes for Raif Badawi

The Saudi Arabian Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for liberal blogger Raif Badawi.

“This is a final decision that is irrevocable,” said Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar in a phone interview from Quebec with the AFP. “This decision has shocked me.”

“I was optimistic that the advent of (the Muslim fasting month of) Ramadan and the arrival of a new king would bring a pardon for the prisoners of conscience, including my husband,” she added.

Haidar has been granted asylum in Canada with the couple’s three children.

Badawi’s “crime” was moderating an internet forum that encouraged participants to voice their opinion about religion in the kingdom. He founded the online forum “Free Saudi Liberals” in 2008 which encouraged open debate about issues that are normally considered taboo in the heavily regulated Wahhabi kingdom.

Badawi, 30, was originally sentenced in June 2012 sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, including three month’s imprisonment for “parental disobedience.” He was also ordered to pay a fine of $266,000.

Yet, after an appeal, a higher court later raised the sentence to 1,000 lashes and 10 years imprisonment.

On January 9, he received the first 50 out of 1,000 lashes meted out publicly near the al-Jafali Mosque after Friday prayers. The lashes were scheduled to take place every Friday, but the next week, a doctor said Badawi could not withstand more lashings and they were suspended.

Haider fears that the lashings will begin again this Friday.

Badawi’s punishments were condemned by international human rights groups and governments worldwide. Yet despite international condemnation and calls to desist, the Saudi government has upheld the sentence.

Now, Badawi’s only recourse is a pardon from King Salman.