Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Faces Apostasy Charges, Could Be Executed

Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed.

This comes after a court opted not to charge him with apostasy in January, but did put him up on charges of “insulting Islam and showing disobedience.” How did they come to this decision? Badawi is the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, which is bad enough, but imagine the horror that washed over Saudi society with kind of action:

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

As a result of this heinous behavior, in July, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Which was horrifying enough. But now it looks like Badawi is being brought up on apostasy charges in earnest. Badawi’s case is one of many being watched by the Office of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry, where I work, and our Campaign for Free Expression. Browse the cases we have listed there, and you’ll see that, sadly, Badawi’s case is hardly unique.

Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The Starship Maxima

    What an absolute Goddamn abomination. Thanks for making this farce of justice public Paul.

  • LesterBallard

    I’d have to say we’re allies of the Saudi government, not so much the people of Saudi Arabia.

  • Todd Heath

    Is the US really much better? We create laws that unfairly target minorities and then imprison large numbers of them for simple marijuana possession. At the same time a rich caucasian kid gets a slap on the wrist for causing the death of others.

  • SeekerLancer

    Even worse when you get into small town politics where people get away with pretty much anything as long as you have the right connections or are the star player on the high school football team.

    But outside of the ridiculous punishments for people like marijuana users and our complete failure to rehabilitate prisoners, at least most of the ills of our legal system involve the law being abused instead of followed to the letter. At least we try to maintain some semblance of civil rights instead of actively crapping on them like the Saudis are doing here.

  • Stev84

    Well, there are some fundamental structural weaknesses. Like sheriffs, judges and prosecutors all being elected in many places.

  • $84687101

    Yes, in spite of our many flaws, we are still much better than this.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Even the worst failures of the U.S. justice system- prison for victimless crimes, unfairly applied execution standards, children tried as adults- all of these things are minor compared with the failures of what passes for justice in Saudi Arabia, and in most other Islamic theocracies.

    We do not need to be perfect ourselves to recognize gross abuses in others. We do not need to be perfect ourselves to recognize that others are far, far worse.

  • Todd Heath

    I agree with your sentiment. I believe when we criticize other societies failures, we need to hold up a mirror and look at our own too. I was just reflecting on how we could further lead in making civilization more civilized.

  • Zadius

    Of course we should be self-critical, but that doesn’t mean every time we talk about horrible things elsewhere in the world we have to qualify the statement with, “but we have big problems ourselves too.” We can talk about those problems in a thread about those problems.

  • Todd Heath

    I have to disagree with you. Those problems are relevant if we are going to claim the moral high ground. For example, the State of Illinois commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates to life because it’s system was so fraught with errors, innocent people were put to death. Minorities are jailed and face the death penalty at a much higher rate than the white majority. How can we properly address blasphemy laws and their misuse when we have a plank in our own eye?

    I’m not so certain our system is much better when we are putting innocent men to death here.

  • AT777T

    We should criticize and attempt to improve the situation here, and we should do the same in other countries. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    (Not necessarily contradicting anything that has been said, just adding and clarifying.)

  • Jeff

    The difference is one of formality. In the US, we at least go through the motions of pretending to respect the idea that all citizens are equal under the law and that the government does not play favorites with religion or status. We don’t always follow through with those lofty ideals, but our unrealized ideal of equality is a far sight better than the Saudis’ fully-realized ideal of theocracy.

  • Wildcard

    This is horrifying. What gains do we get by being an ally?

  • $84687101

    Oil profits for American and other Western companies. Cheaper fuel for our SUVs, tanks, and aircraft carriers, and flyover rights for our aircraft bombing weddings.

  • CassandraJK

    It’s amazing how much injustice and how many horrific crimes are ignored in the name of profit. Both here and abroad.

  • benanov

    Oil?

  • Bob Jase

    If he is executed will that somehow convert him to loving the god who demanded his death?

    Religion is so fucked up…

  • quasibaka

    I keep expecting to read
    “This is a Poe”
    at the end.

  • BoGardiner

    “Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?”

    Yes, thank you Paul. SIX HUNDRED LASHES? These are animals. There should be global outrage. Thank you for helping bring attention to such horrifying ongoing atrocities in a supposedly developed society. We’re supposed to RESPECT this “religious tradition”?!

  • SmartGirl

    The US government couldn’t care less about people like Raif Badawi. As long as the Saudi government continues to play ball with the US, it can execute as many people as it wishes.

  • Drakk

    Death to those who dare insult the religion of peace!

    /s

  • justme

    I was sickened by this story. All of Saudi Arabia’s lawmakers, judges, prosecutors and those involved with their kangaroo courts will be punished for their crimes against these innocent people. While we can’t stop the lawless actions of the lunatic judges in that country, we can continue to spread the messages of Raif Badawi and all of the other innocents in THIS country! It was said that his website was taken down. Does anyone know what it was about? Hats off to CNN.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Or maybe poor reporting. Seems to be sourcing the CNN article.

  • https://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

    How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?

    The US will happily ignore whatever global injustices they want as long as the Sacred Oil keeps flowing. Or, in the case of Saudi Arabia, as long as they keep allowing the US to retain the airbases used to project power throughout the region which are located there.

    If you’re a US ally you can get away with pretty much anything you want, as long as you keep playing ball and keep those Natural Resources flowing.

  • Camorris

    I recently saw a video of a current Saudi Prince who is trying to improve conditions for women in his country, but is battling intrenched attitudes amongst older Saudi men. He explained that the royal family desires to move forward with social reforms but must maintain good relations with the clergy to prevent upheaval and possible overthrow. So this is why there are still religion police in the country.
    In my opinion, if Islam is to transform itself into a real religion of peace (not just peace for Muslims) the change must originate in the region of its founding. And it must be affected by change in the Arab male attitude and not by bloody conflict. Religion that needs the power of the state to survive is one that will not survive forever.

  • indorri

    I really appreciate efforts like this, but I wonder sometimes whether it would not be better just to hang those who install, perpetuate and enforce laws like this and be done with it.

  • Leiningen’s Ants

    Regrettably, men of empire like Sir Charles Napier aren’t around anymore. :[ “Let us all act according to our national customs.” Snerrrrk!<3

  • Highlander

    600 lashes would almost certainly kill a person.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    They’re not all delivered at once. I’m not sure how many per session, but they’re nice enough to let you recover in-between.

  • Pope Ron Polyp II

    Well, how magnanimous.

  • Robster

    Six hundred lashes, that’s nice and civilised! The poor man will be little more than mincemeat.

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