PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
E-mail: press@centerforinquiry.net

First of 1000 Lashes to be Inflicted on Saudi Dissident Tomorrow, CFI Demands His Release

January 08, 2015

Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian human rights activist serving a decade in prison for “insulting Islam” and running a liberal website, will begin to suffer the first 50 of his 1000 lashes tomorrow morning, the Center for Inquiry has learned. CFI demands that the Saudi Arabian government end this persecution, forego this brutal punishment, and free Raif immediately.

“It’s not too late for Saudi officials to discover their humanity and make the choice to spare Raif this barbaric cruelty,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “The notion that Islam or any religion must be protected from questioning is incompatible with fundamental human rights, and can motivate extremists to engage in outrageous acts, as confirmed by the attacks in Paris. It is human beings who deserve respect, and it is the right to free expression that must be protected.”

Said Lindsay, “We unequivocally demand that Raif not be harmed and that he be released without charge, and we also ask the world community to stand with us in pressuring Saudi Arabia to do the right thing.”

Badawi, a 30-year-old father of three, was convicted of “insulting Islam” and other crimes of dissent in 2013 for helping to found the website Liberal Saudi Network, which was dedicated to fostering debate on religion and politics, and promoting respect for the freedom of religion, belief, and expression, as well as women’s rights. For his crime, Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, which was in May increased to 10 years and 1000 lashes, plus an onerous fine and a ban on travel and access to electronic media for 10 years following his prison term.

A Saudi Government official will flog Badawi in public after Friday prayers in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. 

In December, CFI acquired a rare official judicial document from Saudi Arabia’s criminal court in Jeddah, which outlined the quasi-theocratic reasoning upon which it punishes those who dare question the government or its interpretation of Islam. More: http://bit.ly/CFI_Badawi_Doc

CFI has repeatedly spoken out on Badawi’s behalf at the UN Human Rights Council, and on one such occasion this past July, the Saudi delegation tried unsuccessfully to shout down CFI’s spokesperson. In addition, CFI has also held protests, waged publicity campaigns, and worked alongside diplomatic allies to free Raif Badawi and return him to his family. Learn more about CFI’s efforts to fight blasphemy laws and other forms of religious persecution at the Campaign for the Free Expression. (http://www.centerforinquiry.net/cfe) 

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.