Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Saudi blogger’s flogging postponed for medical reasons

From the Guardian:

The wife of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for criticising leading clerics, says King Abdullah has referred his case to the supreme court amid an international clamour over his flogging.

Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with the couple’s three children, told the BBC the decision had raised hopes that the authorities wanted to end her husband’s punishment. But there has been no official statement from the Saudi government.

The authorities had already postponed Badawi’s flogging on medical grounds after a doctor said wounds from a previous lashing had not healed. Campaigners said the move exposed the “outrageous inhumanity” of his punishment.

The 31-year-old was due to receive 50 further lashes after Friday prayers, the first 50 having been given outside al-Jafali mosque in the port city of Jeddah last week. He was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison, a fine and 1,000 lashes after criticising Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on his blog.

According to Amnesty International, which has adopted Badawi as a prisoner of conscience, he was removed from his cell on Friday morning and taken to the prison clinic for a health check. The doctor concluded that the wounds from last week’s flogging had not yet healed properly and Badawi would be unable to withstand more. He recommended that the flogging be postponed until next week.

Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Not only does this postponement on health grounds expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity.

“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. Flogging should not be carried out under any circumstances.”

Here is the text of a Jan. 14 news release by Foreign Affairs Canada (“Canada concerned by punishment of Saudi blogger“):

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement regarding the punishment of 1,000 lashes and a 10-year prison sentence for a Saudi blogger:

“Canada is deeply concerned by the public flogging of Raif Badawi. This punishment is a violation of human dignity and freedom of expression, and we call for clemency in this case.

“The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy. While Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, we will continue to make our position known, both publicly and through diplomatic channels.

“Canada has an active partnership and candid relationship with Saudi Arabia, and believes it can play a positive role in many of the region’s security challenges. We will maintain an ongoing, respectful dialogue with Saudi Arabia on a number of issues, including human rights.”

Canada has made representations to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Ottawa, and Canada’s Ambassador in Riyadh has met with the Chair of the Human Rights Commission and has sought a meeting with the Government of Saudi Arabia. Minister Baird has also discussed this issue with concerned parties, including Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations.

Note this Jan. 15 Globe and Mail article (“Arms deal with Saudi Arabia under fire after flogging of blogger Raif Badawi“):

The Canadian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the success of a controversial $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a transaction drawing more scrutiny as concern grows over the kingdom’s flogging of a man with ties to Canada.

Ottawa is facing growing calls to intervene as Saudi Arabia administers the latest instalment of 1,000 lashes to Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger whose wife and children have been granted asylum in Canada. Amnesty International organized protests outside the Saudi embassy in Ottawa Thursday, and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is writing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to do more for the man convicted of blasphemy against Islam.

It was only last year the Harper government celebrated a 14-year deal brokered by Ottawa to supply made-in-Canada light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia as a historic achievement that will sustain more than 3,000 manufacturing jobs.

Addendum

On Jan. 17, Jeffrey Simpson wrote the following in a Globe and Mail column entitled Cozying up to Saudi Arabia: How can that be ‘principled’?

The Harper government boasts of conducting a high-minded, “principled” foreign policy. In that case, could someone in government explain why Saudi Arabia is Canada’s second-largest export market for military sales? Where’s the principle in that?

Could that same person explain why the Harper government cozies up to a regime whose decision to drive down the world price of oil is crippling Canada’s oil industry and hurting the economy; whose government-sponsored support for a Wahhabi/Salafist form of Islam has spawned terrorism in many places; whose government opposes any attempt to curtail greenhouse gases; whose government oppresses its Shia minorities; and whose government has beheaded more people in 2014 than any other in the world and sentences a blogger to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam.

Fri, January 16 2015 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page, Media