By USCIRF Staff
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sadly marks the three-year anniversary of the blasphemy sentence handed down in Saudi Arabia to Raif Badawi, the founder and editor of Free Saudi Liberals, an online forum for diverse views.
“The Saudi government continues to imprison Raif Badawi for exercising his internationally-guaranteed rights of the freedoms of religion and expression. Mr. Badawi is a prisoner of conscience who has languished in prison, away from his wife and children, and has been flogged publicly to punish him and intimidate others,” said USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. “USCIRF calls on the Saudi government to overturn his unjust sentence, release him immediately and unconditionally, and end the prosecution of individuals charged with apostasy and blasphemy. Belief must not be policed.”
Mr. Badawi was arrested in June 2012 on crimes including apostasy and “insulting Islam” and sentenced on July 29, 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In May 2014, a Saudi appeals court retried Mr. Badawi’s case, resulting in a harsher sentence, which the Saudi Supreme Court upheld in June 2015: 10 years’ imprisonment, 1,000 lashes, and a fine roughly equivalent to US$266,000.
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