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Saudi Arabia: today's flogging of online activist Raif Badawi was 'vicious act of cruelty'

Raif Badawi faces another 950 lashes in coming months © Private
A witness has confirmed to Amnesty International that the flogging of Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi took place this morning after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. 
According to the witness, after the prayers ended Mr Badawi was removed from a bus in shackles and brought to the public square in front of the mosque. Surrounded by a crowd made up of the public and a number of security officers, he received 50 consecutive lashes on his back. The whole ordeal lasted around 15 minutes. Afterwards he was put back in the bus and taken away.
Badawi was sentenced to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately £175,000) last year for creating an online forum for public debate as well as accusations that he insulted Islam. The full sentence of 1,000 lashes is set to be carried out over a period of 20 weeks. 
Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, whose only “crime” has been to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for public discussion. Amnesty is insisting that he is immediately and unconditionally released.
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law.
“By ignoring international calls to cancel the flogging Saudi Arabia’s authorities have demonstrated an abhorrent disregard for the most basic human rights principles.
“It is appalling that 19 weeks of flogging await Raif Badawi over the coming months. Saudi Arabia’s authorities must act immediately to halt all further floggings.”

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