A Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam is expected to face the second 50-lash installment of his sentence this Friday, according to rights campaigners. Raif Badawi, a liberal Saudi blogger, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes, after being convicted of “insulting Islam through diplomatic channels.”
The corporal portion of his sentence was to be carried out in weekly installments of 50. He received 50 lashes in January 2015, but since then Saudi authorities have repeatedly postponed subsequent floggings, citing medical reasons.
Nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, said this week that they feared the next round of flogging would be carried out this Friday, the scheduled day for the beatings each week, following a Saudi court's decision to uphold his conviction earlier this week.
In addition, Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar said earlier this week that she was “sure” her husband's punishment would resume, after the court's ruling.
Writing from Canada, she told the Independent: “I am sure they will start flogging him again, maybe this Friday, I don’t know,” she wrote in an email. “I am very shocked. I appeal to the princes Mohammed bin Nayef and Mohammed bin Salman to pardon my husband.”
Saudi Arabia has expressed "surprise and dismay" at the widespread international criticism prompted by the punishment. After the first beating, the foreign ministry issued a statement saying it rejected interference in its internal affairs, the BBC reported.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian: “Saudi authorities believe they are the ones under attack while Raif Badawi waits to be publicly flogged merely for expressing his peaceful opinions. All Saudi efforts to improve the country’s image internationally cannot overcome this ugly message of intolerance.”