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IHEU representative Kacem Elghazali speaking in Arabic at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday (17 September 2013) attacked Saudi Arabia’s abysmal record on human rights and in particular the sentence of 600 lashes and seven years in jail handed down to blogger Raif Badawi and asked how Saudi King Abdullah how he could possibly equate his stated desire to improve inter-religious and intercultural dialogue with such a sentence against a freethinker.

Here is Kacem’s statement in full:

International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 24rd Session
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Kacem El Ghazzali, 17 September 2013
Item 4: Matters requiring the attention of the Council
Persecution of Bloggers and Human Rights Defenders in OIC
We are seeing increasing cases of violations of the human rights of bloggers and human rights defenders in OIC member states.
Jrbour Mejri was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in Tunisia for posting pictures considered “insulting to the Prophet”.
Mr Raif Badawi, founder of “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, has been detained since 17 June 2012 and sentenced to 600 lashes and to 7 years jail: the punishment for being a liberal in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Bloggers, writers and free thinkers face arrest, persecution and death under the ruling of Islamic law. Criticizing Arabia’s religious police or defending women’s rights in Saudi Arabia can put any human rights defender in the same situation as Raef Badawi – or even worse.
Mr President, Saudi Arabia has an appalling record of human rights violations. In June this year, two prominent women’s rights activists, Wajeha al Huweidar and Fawzia Al-Oyouni, were convicted and sentenced to a ten-month prison term on charges of inciting separation between a husband and a wife.
The 23-year-old poet Hamza Kashgari, who was accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad after he tweeted three short messages describing an imagined meeting with the prophet, has spent almost a year and a half in prison, and his fate is still  uncertain.
Last year in Vienna, King Abdullah opened the International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue – a center supposedly aimed at promoting comity and respect between religions
May I ask  His Majesty, via this council, how can he conceivably equate a possible 600 lashes and 7 year jail term for a free thinker with promoting tolerance and respect between religions?
Thank you Sir

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