The second round of flogging of Raif Badawi -- the Saudi blogger sentenced under the country’s harsh anti-blasphemy laws for insulting Islam -- has been postponed on medical grounds, Amnesty International reported. Badawi, who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, was publicly flogged 50 times last Friday.
According to a statement released by Amnesty on Friday, the flogging was postponed after it was found that Badawi’s wounds from last week’s punishment had not yet healed.
“Not only does this postponement on health grounds expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity,” Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the statement. “The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous.”
Saudi Arabia’s decision to postpone the flogging comes amid a flood of international criticism over what the United Nations called a “cruel and inhuman punishment.” Governments across the world, including the U.S., Canada, Germany and Norway, had condemned the flogging and called for Badawi's release.
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has sought asylum in Canada, has also pleaded for his release and expressed fears that her husband may not be able to physically withstand a second round of lashes.
“Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor, and I’m certain he will not be able to cope with another round of lashes,” she had reportedly said.
Badawi, creator of “Free Saudi Liberals” -- a website that reportedly critiqued religion and its growing influence on Saudi Arabia's government -- was arrested in June 2012 and had initially been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes by a Saudi court. However, an appeals court later overturned the sentence, ordered a retrial and handed down a 10-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes spread over 20 weeks, along with a fine of about $260,000.