Blogger punishment: Saudi Arabia condemns foreign 'interference'

  • AFP, Riyadh
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2015 13:12 IST

Saudi Arabia on Thursday condemned foreign criticism of a 1,000-lash sentence that the kingdom's highest court upheld against a blogger, rejecting "interference" in its internal affairs.

The kingdom "has expressed strong disbelief and condemnation" at statements about the case of Raif Badawi, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing an official source at the foreign ministry.

Rights groups fear he could be flogged again as soon as tomorrow, despite appeals from the United States, European Union and France for his sentence to be rescinded.

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday accused Saudi Arabia of handing Badawi a "medieval" punishment.

Saudi Arabia's judiciary "enjoys independence and the kingdom does not accept any interference in its judiciary and internal affairs from any party," the Saudi foreign ministry source said.

Worldwide outrage followed a lower court's decision sentencing Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for insulting Islam.

International agencies like Amnesty International and protesters across countries have condemned the punishment meted out to Raif by the Saudi judiciary. #JeSuisRaif became a trending topic on Twitter as people flogged to the popular social networking site to show their solidarity with the cause.

Badawi's wife said on Sunday that the kingdom's Supreme Court had upheld that verdict.

"This is a final decision that is irrevocable," Ensaf Haidar told AFP in a telephone interview from Canada. "This decision has shocked me."

The couple's three children have been granted asylum in Quebec.

Badawi received the first 50 lashes outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9. Subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed.

"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," Haidar said, referring to King Salman who acceded to the throne in January.

Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group.

He was arrested in June 2012 under cyber-crime provisions and a judge ordered the website shut after it criticised Saudi Arabia's religious police.

Badawi's lawyer, Walid Abulkhair, who is also a rights activist, is behind bars as well.

Badawi and Abulkhair have been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian member of parliament Karin Andersen.

Read:'#JeSuisRaif' tweets the world to save blogger from 950 lashes

also read

Show comments