The Saudi blogger who faces a punishment of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison because he criticized Islam is set to receive the second round of his torturous sentence on Friday.
Raif Badawi was brought to a public square in Jiddah last week and flogged 50 times. He was sentenced last May after criticizing Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on a liberal blog.
He will receive another 50 lashes on Friday, Amnesty International said in a news release. His sentence calls for him to receive 50 lashes every Friday for 20 weeks.
“The world’s spotlight is shining on Saudi Arabia. If authorities ignore widespread criticism and unashamedly continue with the flogging of Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia would be demonstrating contempt for international law and disregard for world opinion,” said Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Flogging and other forms of corporal judicial punishment violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. By continuing to dole out this inhuman punishment the Saudi Arabian authorities are flagrantly flouting basic human rights principles,” he added.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said in a statement Thursday that flogging is “at the very least, a form of cruel and inhuman punishment” prohibited under international human rights law.
He appealed to the king to halt the public flogging by pardoning Badawi “and to urgently review this type of extraordinarily harsh penalty.”
Last week, the U.S. made a rare diplomatic decision to publicly call on Saudi Arabia, an important U.S. ally, to rescind the sentencing, with U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urging Saudi authorities to “cancel this brutal punishment.”
“The United States strongly opposes laws, including apostasy laws, that restrict the exercise of these freedoms, and urges all countries to uphold these rights in practice,” Psaki said.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 after criticizing Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on his blog. In 2013, he was cleared of apostasy, which could have carried a death sentence.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict version of Islamic law and does not tolerate political dissent. It has some of the highest social media usage rates in the region, and has cracked down on domestic online criticism, imposing harsh punishments.
In addition to his sentence, Badawi was ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000). Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.
Zeke Johnson, Amnesty’s managing director of individuals at risk program, told FoxNews.com on Thursday that the organization has a petition calling for Badawi’s release. Johnson also urged Americans to contact their representatives in Congress, as well as the White House, to press the U.S. government to demand Badawi’s freedom.
FoxNews.com’s Karl de Vries and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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