15 Jan 2015

Saudi man sentenced 10 years jail and weekly public canings for 5 months. He is guilty of setting up a public online forum for debate and discussion.

HE IS brought before the crowd and whipped relentlessly 50 times with a long, hard cane.
But his wounds won’t have healed by the time Raif Badawi is due to be brought back to the same site tomorrow where he will endure the horrific punishment all over again - as he will every Friday for the next five months.
The father-of-three’s crime may seem innocent enough to most, but according to Saudi authorities Badawi, who set up a website for public debate, he insulted Islam.
The blogger, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, was publicly flogged last week after Friday prayers when he was lashed 50 times outside al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.
One eyewitness told human rights organisation Amnesty International that Badawi was lashed on his back and legs without any break for at least five minutes.
“Raif was escorted from a bus and placed in the middle of the crowd, guarded by eight or nine officers,” the witness said.
“He was handcuffed and shackled but his face was not covered — everyone could see his face. 
“A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him. Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain.”
Shackled throughout the lashing, Raif had to listen to the crowd shouting, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!” as if he had been “purified”.
Witnesses said they knew a public punishment was coming after noticing a huge security presence in the streets and around the mosque. Some roads had also been closed.
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, said she feared her husband may not be able to physically withstand a second round of lashes, let alone the same treatment every week for months.
“Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor and I’m certain he will not be able to cope with another round of lashes,” she told Amnesty International.
“I told our children about the news last week so that they would not find out about it from friends at school.
“It is a huge shock for them. International pressure is crucial, I believe if we keep up the support it will eventually pay off. We must keep on fighting.” 
In a video uploaded to YouTube which purports to show the flogging, a man in uniform can be seen striking a shackled prisoner with a cane as a crowd gathers around.
The video is yet to be verified, however Badawi’s wife told CNN it was difficult to watch.
“It’s a scene I cannot describe, it was horrible,” she said. “Every lash killed me.”


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