Our ‘Moderate’ Saudi Allies Poised to Scourge Civil-Rights Advocate

by Andrew C. McCarthy

The Gatestone Institute reports a tweet announcing that Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger and civil rights advocate, is about to suffer – perhaps tomorrow — the infliction of a thousand lashes by the Saudi government. It is part of the sentence imposed last year when he was convicted of insulting Islam.

Valentina Colombo of the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, wrote about the case for Gatestone last summer:

[O]n May 7, Raif Badawi, detained since June 17, 2012 in Briman Prison in Jeddah, was sentenced (sentence no. 34184394) to 1,000 lashes (in violation of international law, which prohibits such punishments), ten years in jail and fine of one million riyals ($270,000).

Such behavior from the Saudi regime comes with the bought consent of the West, which would rather constantly reprimand and punish Israel than address the Arab and Muslim world’s floggings, beheadings, stonings and amputations — not to mention executing homosexuals, gender apartheid and the effective imprisonment, if not frequent slavery, of women, and the often merciless treatment of foreign workers….

Badawi was condemned, according to Amnesty International, for having co-founded a website, “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” and for having written and publishing on it his blog and other writings, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, — [sic] as well as for other “offenses to Islamic precepts.”

He criticized and made fun of Saudi institutions such as the Commission for the Promotion of Goodness and the Prohibition of Vice (also known as “the religious police”), the Saudi Grand Mufti, other Saudi ulema [religious scholars].

The long sentence of the Criminal Court of the district of Jeddah stated that he had undermined the “public order.”

The thousand-lash sentence was increased from the 600 lashes originally imposed after Badawi appealed. The lashes are to be inflicted over the course of 20 sessions in front of a mosque.

Badawi was represented by a Saudi civil-rights lawyer, Walid Abu al-Khayr. For his trouble, al-Khayr has also been prosecuted and given a severe sentence. According to Ms. Colombo:

Saudi human rights lawyer Walid Abu al-Khayr, who defended blogger Raif Badawi, was sentenced yesterday, July 6, to 15 years in prison. He was arrested on April 15, accused of: “inciting public opinion,” “disobedience in matters of the sovereign,” “lack of respect in dealings with the authorities,” “offense of the judicial system,” “inciting international organizations against the Saudi kingdom” and, finally, for having founded illegally, or without authorization, his association “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.” He was also forbidden to travel for fifteen years after his release, and fined 200,000 riyals ($53,000) according to Abdullah al-Shihri of the Associated Press.

Sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia. I outlined a number of its repulsive provisions in yesterday’s column. The Saudi government is also employing a terror law that defines “terrorism” as any act that, among other things, undermines public order, jeopardizes national unity, or insults the reputation of the Kingdom.

The United States government regards the Saudi kingdom as a moderate Islamist state and a key counterterrorism ally.

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