Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was not flogged yesterday.
This is good news, of course. And it’s the fifth Friday running that the flogging has not been carried out, which is even better. The first fifty lashes were administered in a public square in Jeddah after Friday prayers on January 9th.
Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years imprisonment. The sentence stems from his creation of the website Saudi Arabian Liberals, a blog not unlike Slugger. He was subsequently charged for content he had posted to the site, including an article published on Valentine’s Day three years ago in which he was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s religious police, the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
The reason that the flogging was not carried out yesterday is unknown. As in previous weeks he was not examined by a prison doctor.
Of course, it may not be unrelated to the international public outcry at the blogger’s sentence. Over a million people have signed this petition. Even Prince Charles felt obliged to raise the case with the new Saudi king on his visit this week. Raif’s wife, Ensaf, wants us to keep up the pressure until he is freed.
On 3 February the Saudi Supreme Court referred Raif’s case back to the Criminal Court. Amnesty has learned that he will likely be called to the Criminal Court for a hearing where he will be informed about the court’s decision. No further information about the date of this session is available and it is unclear whether his flogging has been halted or postponed in relation to it.
Raif’s case – and that of others sentenced due to their exercise of their right to freedom of speech – will be the campaign focus at the Great Big Politics Pub Quiz, supported by Slugger O’Toole and Stratagem, and due to take place in The Black Box in Belfast as part of Imagine: Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics.