Saudi Arabia: Raif Badawi – Intolerance and Sectarianism Saudi Style

“Raif Badawi is a Saudi citizen who started an Internet forum called “Free Saudi Liberals” that discussed the role of religion in Saudi Arabia.  He was arrested by authorities in July 2012 and charged with cyber crime and disobeying his father.  According to Human Rights Watch he founded his website in 2008 to “encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia.  Articles on his website were critical of senior religious figures. At his first trial he was sentenced to 7 years in jail and 600 lashes.  In July 2014 an appellate court ordered a new trial.  At the second trial Badawi was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined one million riyals for creating his website and an additional five years in prison and 1,000 public lashes for “blasphemous phrases on his Face book page and disobedience to his father. He doesn’t get all the lashes at one time.  There will be 20 sessions of 50 lashes each.  Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Ab al-Khair, didn’t have a better summer than his client.

As reported by Human Rights Watch, on July 2014 al-Khair received a 5-year prison sentence because he criticized Saudi human rights abuses in media interviews and on social media.

The same day Badawi was sentenced, the same court sentenced the administrator of a website to six years in jail and a 50,000 riyal fine.  His crime was “supporting Internet forums hostile to the state. . . which promoted demonstrations.” Another website administrator got a five year sentence for publishing a column written by a Sh’ite Muslim cleric.

Fahdil al-Manasif helped international journalists who were covering protests that occurred as a result of Saudi treatment of Shia Muslims in the eastern province of the country.  He will spend 14 years in prison for his efforts. On November 3, 2014 Mikhlif al-Shammari was sentenced to two years in prison and 200 lashes.  One of his crimes was visiting a prominent Shia figure in the eastern part of the country as a goodwill gesture.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/16/intolerance-saudi-style/