Blogland,  Human Rights,  Saudi Arabia

Liberal Saudi blogger to receive first of a thousand lashes

Yes, yes, I know all about realpolitik.

(Obama’s foolish bow, by the way, did not prove him any more obsequious than the hand-holding Bush Jr. or any other recent American president.)

But at what point do we get to tell the medieval creeps who run this kingdom to fuck off?

A Saudi blogger who was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes will be publicly flogged for the first time after Friday prayers outside a mosque in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah, a person close to his case said Thursday.

Raif Baddawi was sentenced on charges related to accusations that he insulted Islam on a liberal online forum he had created. He was also ordered by the Jiddah Criminal Court to pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, or about $266,000.

Rights groups and activists say his case is part of a wider clampdown on dissent throughout the kingdom. Officials have increasingly blunted calls for reforms since the region’s 2011 Arab Spring upheaval.

Badawi has been held since mid-2012, and his Free Saudi Liberals website is now closed. The case has drawn condemnation from rights groups.

He called from prison and informed his family of the flogging, due Friday, said a person close to the case. The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal, said Badawi was “being used as an example for others to see.”
London-based rights group Amnesty International has said that Badawi is to receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. was “greatly concerned.” She called the 1,000 lashes an “inhumane” response to someone exercising his right to freedom of expression and religion.

“The United States government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and sentence,” Psaki told reporters. The U.S., she said, opposes apostasy laws that restrict freedom.

Yes, but where are the consequences? Where have they been, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, for the past 30 years and more?