Saudi postpones flogging of blogger for 4th week

AFP , Friday 6 Feb 2015

Ensaf Haidar
File Photo: Ensaf Haidar takes part in a news conference calling for the release of her husband, Raif Badawi, in Ottawa January 29, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia on Friday postponed for a fourth straight week the flogging of blogger Raef Badawi who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, his wife said.

Ensaf Haidar told AFP that he was not flogged, but she did "not know the reasons".

The 30-year-old received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.

The next round of punishment was postponed for the following two weeks on medical grounds.

Badawi's case has already prompted worldwide outrage and criticism from the UN, US, the EU and others.

Haidar, who has sought asylum with their three children in Canada, has voiced concerns about the health of her husband, who has suffered from hypertension since his arrest in June 2012.

Badawi co-founded the now-banned Saudi Liberal Network along with women's rights campaigner Suad al-Shammari, who was also accused of insulting Islam and arrested last October.

The charges against Badawi were brought after his group criticised clerics and the kingdom's notorious religious police, who have been accused of a heavy-handed enforcement of sharia Islamic law.

Badawi was initially sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for insulting Islam, but an appeals court overturned the verdict and sent his case back for retrial.

His sentence was then increased to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein urged ailing Saudi King Abdullah before his death to pardon Badawi, saying flogging is "cruel and inhuman".

Abdullah died on January 23 and was succeeded by his half-brother Salman.

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