After a few weeks of relatively encouraging signs that perhaps Saudi Arabia might show some leniency to atheist blogger Raif Badawi, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. His wife has been informed that they may reopen apostasy charges against him, which would carry the death penalty.
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has prompted international condemnation, may now face the death penalty.
Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told The Independent in a series of messages that judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court want him to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence.
She said the “dangerous information” had come from “official sources” inside the conservative kingdom, where Mr Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – administered at a rate of 50 per week – for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog.
After the first 50 lashes, the Saudis have repeatedly postponed any other beatings, which were scheduled to take place every Friday. That had offered some hope that perhaps the Saudi government was considering suspending the sentence, but this new development changes everything. Let’s hope that this does not happen.