Fearing blogger Raif Badawi would not survive his second round of 50 lashes, Saudi authorities postponed the scheduled punishment Friday, giving him a week to heal before the lashes resume. His crime: insulting Saudi clerics and the morality police, which has resulted in the sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
Despite a chorus of calls for the end of his punishment, including from the U.S. State Department and the U.N. commissioner of human rights, Saudi Arabia has shown no signs of reversing the sentence. Human rights groups say that Badawi’s case is a part of the Saudi government’s broader campaign to squash dissent. MyFoxNY reports:
Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their influential role in supporting government policies. The clerics’ ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of religion is effectively the law of the land.
Badawi was sentenced to ten years and 1,000 lashes last may for criticizing the powerful state clerics and ridiculing the morality police on his blog. He’s also been fined 1 million Saudi riyals (approximately $266,000).
After receiving his first 50 lashes last week in front of a crowd in Jiddah, Badawi, a father of three, was supposed to be whipped again Friday. However, Amnesty International reports that during a check-up in the morning a physician determined that he would likely not survive, so the lashings were pushed back a week.