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Saudi activist sentenced to 600 lashes

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Saudi activist sentenced to 600 lashes

Aug-16-2013 at 07:14 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Saudi activist sentenced to 600 lashes
by i24news - AFP. July 31st 2013.
Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi was also sentenced to 7 years for llegedly insulting Islam and violating anti-cybercrime laws

Raif Badawi, editor of a liberal Saudi Arabian social network, has been sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years behind bars by a Saudi judge for allegedly insulting Islam and violating the nation’s anti-cybercrime laws.

Badawi, who was arrested in June 2012, founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, intended to foster discussion about the role of religion in Saudi Arabia. The website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia for several years, and the charges against Badawi alleged that the website undermines general security.

Saudi Arabia official follows Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative form of sunni Islam, and imposes Sharia law across the country. Under this form of Sharia, apostasy, or abandoning the Islamic faith, is a crime that carries the death penalty. Badawi had originally been charged with apostasy, and potentially faced beheading, but the charges have since been dropped.

Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations, have called Badawi a political prisoner and have called for his immediate release.

French officials from the foreign ministry expressed concern about sentence and released a statement saying they remained committed to “freedom of opinion and of expression.”

"This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia's claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue," said Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison."

Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Kahir announced the sentence via twitter. The court is expected to send Badawi’s camp a written notification by August 6th. They will have 30 days to appeal.


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1. Amnesty International: Tweet for Raif Badawi

Aug-16-2013 at 07:25 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #0
Amnesty International: Tweet for Raif Badawi May 13, 2013.
Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, has been detained since 17 June 2012 in a prison in Briman, in Jeddah. He was charged with “setting up a website that undermines public security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures. His trial began in June 2012 in the District Court in Jeddah, and was marred by irregularities. According to his lawyer, the original trial judge was replaced by a judge who had advocated that Raif Badawi be punished for "apostasy". His lawyer contested the judge’s impartiality in the case.

The charges against Raif Badawi relate to a number of articles he has written, including one about Valentine’s Day – the celebration of which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. He was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (also known as the religious police) in the conclusion of his article. The charges against him also mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website, including one insinuating that the al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”. On 17 December, the District Court in Jeddah referred the case to the General Court in Jeddah, recommending that he should be tried for "apostasy". On 22 December the General Court in Jeddah had Raif Badawi sign documents to enable his trial for "apostasy" to proceed.

On 21 January the General Court sent the case back to the District Court stating that they did not have jurisdiction to review his case and that they had found that he had not insulted Islam and therefore it did not amount to an “apostasy” charge. The general prosecutor however is still insisting that Raif Badawi be tried for apostasy. The case is currently before an appeal court to determine whether the case should be heard by the District Court in Jeddah or another tribunal, in particular the General Court in Jeddah, to which it was previously referred.

Amnesty International considers Raif Badawi to be a prisoner of conscience. Act now to call on the authorities for his immediate and unconditional release.


On 22 December 2012, a court in Saudi Arabia decided to proceed with the prosecution of online activist Raif Badawi for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, in what Amnesty International said was a new bid to stifle political and social debate.

See Saudi Arabia uses capital offence of ‘apostasy’ to stifle debate, 24 December 2012.

On 28 December 2012, Raif Badawi was taken to hospital for treatment. He was found to have developed diabetes.

See Website Founder on trial for apostasy, 4 January 2013.

On 21 January the General Court considered that it did not have jurisdiction to review Raif Badawi’s case and that found that he had not insulted Islam and therefore it did not amount to an “apostasy” charge. Raif Badawi’s case subsequently came before the appeal court to decide on the jurisdiction of the case, while the prosecutor continued to call for the “apostasy” charge.

See Website Founder’s case before Appeal Court, 28 March 2013.


On 24 April 2013, a university professor was detained for four months as a result of an arbitrary court order, during a trial in which he faces charges relating to co-founding a human rights organization. Amnesty International described his detention as the latest blow to freedom of expression and assembly in the Gulf kingdom.

See Saudi Arabia court orders arbitrary detention of human rights defender, 25 April 2013.

During the first quarter of 2013, the Saudi Arabian authorities resorted to additional measures to augment those they have previously used to repress freedom of expression and of association. After imprisoning dozens of prominent human rights activists in 2012, the Saudi Arabian authorities expanded the scope of their repression of peaceful activists by imposing more travel bans for unspecified reasons and durations, by disbanding at least one civil society organization and removing its social media accounts, and taking steps towards banning social media applications if these cannot be fully monitored and controlled.
See Saudi Arabia: 2013 promises to be a dark year for freedom of expression and of association, 10 April 2013,

On 9 March 2013, two human rights activists were sentenced to five and 10 years’ imprisonment in Saudi Arabia, providing yet another stain on the country’s record when it comes to attacking free expression.

See Saudi Arabia punishes two activists for voicing opinion, 11 March 2013

For more information on violations of freedom of expression in the name of security see the report Saudi Arabia: Repression in the name of security, November 2011. To see all our public documents click on Saudi Arabia.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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