Share →

It is reported that officials have carried out the first 50 lashes of a 1000-lashes sentence against Saudi liberal, Raif Badawi. The charges related to his running of a Liberal Saudi website, focused on advocating greater religious freedom, which was deemed “insulting to Islam” and a threat to the state.

The order papers indicated that the lashings should be “severe”. Witnesses said that despite the severity of the beating today, Raif Badawi “did not flinch; he held the victory symbol and [a] guard had to hold his hand down“.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has consistently protested the prosecution and detention of Raif Badawi, and today unreservedly condemns the punishment. (See also our recent call to action page.)

Director of Communications at IHEU, Bob Churchill, said:


Raif Badawi, before his lengthy jail term

“We bitterly regret and weep for the violence against Raif Badawi.

“Only yesterday it was reported that Saudi Arabia condemned the Charlie Hebdo shootings, and yet the authorities choose this week to brutalize a young man because he had the audacity to stand up and say that his countrymen should have greater liberty. The Saudi state’s condemnation of terror in Paris is hypocrisy of the highest order.

“Around the world for many months, human rights groups have been calling for reprieve, for justice. Saudi’s Western allies have largely held their tongues, calling widely for a pardon only at the eleventh hour. They failed him. We must, all together, call it what is is —Saudi Arabia’s flogging of Raif Badawi is barbarity and torture, plain and simple.

“Raif Badawi was whipped in front of a mosque in public after Friday prayers. Not only is the sentence savage, and an absolute violation of human rights and dignity, but its execution is designed for maximum humiliation, for vengeance. It is a naked attempt to intimidate all those who question authority into silence.

“King Abdullah has branded liberal values and atheist thought as acts of ‘terror’. The reality is abundantly clear today: Through corporal and capital punishment against all those branded “dissidents”, it is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself that acts as a terrorist. To all those who call for freedom of thought and expression, the state of Saudi Arabia is terrorist, no less than the murderers of journalists in Paris.

“Our thoughts and deeds today are focused on Raif, on his family and young children, and on his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair who is likewise jailed merely for his defence of human rights.”

Saudi Arabia was criticised by IHEU and many others in the past year for new “terror” regulations, which labelled the advocacy of liberal values or of “atheist thought in any form” as acts of “terrorism” against the state. Executions have been on the rise and the judiciary appears to have been increasingly keen to recent months to harshly punish anyone branded a “dissident”.

As the attack on Charlie Hebdo has proved this week, images can be powerful…

For press enquiries call +44 207490 8468 or email

This article has been revised with minor updates as news breaks.

More News from IHEU

11 Responses to IHEU: “call it what it is — Saudi Arabia’s flogging of Raif Badawi is barbarity and torture, plain and simple”

  1. Peter J. Truman says:

    Raif Badawi is abandoned by Muslims in Canada . His wife and three children live in Quebec, Canada. Where are the Muslim Association of Quebec and Canada to vigorously defend Raif Badawi on behalf of their alleged Islam of love and tolerance? Where are the Imams of Quebec and Canada to proclaim loudly that they reject torture, amputations and medieval practices of Saudi Arabia and the Sharia . All European countries that have opened their immigration Muslims are struggling with their violence : Denmark, Sweden, France , Belgium, Germany , England. Everywhere, modern and moderate Muslims are silent because they are afraid for themselves and their families. Everywhere, Muslim fundamentalists are silent because they fully approve Sharia law the only right for them. Yves Boisvert of the LaPresse shamefully confessed to Le Devoir : “Journalists are scared to criticize Islam , they fear for their lives .” The RCMP looks for dozens of armed jihadists in Canada as thousands of Muslim fundamentalists working faceless fear found to threaten and prosecute all those who issue any comment on Islam : even the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This is the true face of Islam in Canada.

  2. BC says:

    Remember it is the religion of peace. Peace imposed from above of course. peace in Islam means if everybody does what they are told according to sharia law, which is the essence of Islam. everything is peaceful!

  3. Angela Pickles says:

    I had hoped and prayed for a last minute reprieve for this courageous man. Why is Islam so afraid of freedom of thought and discussion? Does it have so little confidence in its own convictions that it must savagely quash its own people who simply desire a degree of religious freedom? I say to the King of Saudi Arabia, this is a cowardly and hypocritical act of medieval barbarity. Ruling by terror may force many people to outwardly kowtow out of fear, but by these means you will never rule people’s hearts, where religion truly resides. I pray for strength for Raif Badawi, and for the blinkers of fear and bigotry to fall from the eyes of those who treat him like this.

    • Oliver Cromwell says:

      because if freedom of thought and discussion were allowed people would start questioning the sense behind the rulings issued by so called *scholars* embittered ,twisted ,sick men who deprive girls of riding bikes for fear it takes their virginity, from driving cars as it affects there unborn children, even as ova apparently, that insist the ideal age for marriage for girls is 10, that execute people for blasphemy or changin religion ,hell even for reading a book, Saudi Arabia is a criminal state that abuses its *sunni* power too denounce all other muslims as apostates and uses this in threatening other islamic countries where there is a predominance of Shia, and then just maybe then the people of Saudi Arabia will do more than just burn a few buses because 50k of them lost jobs and havent been paid for months, seems too me economically Saudi Arabia is losing money hand over fist their days of glory may be over, hopefully this leads too the younger generation questioning the whole remit of such a barbaric kingdom

  4. James A. LaMar says:

    If there is a God, he will survive as God After Science. But none of the major false prophets of history had the advantages of the modern military-industrial oasis of knowledge that requires much patience, many college degrees, and decades of realizations. All scriptures have the stains of many tears of good-hearted people suffering to make life and the earth a better place for their people, creating religions that would endure to a better day, which is soon to come upon us as we strive to make common sense and the most honorable sense of justice for the world. The mapping of the human genome and the human mind/brain will yield our collective histories, and become a major concentration of study for future clergy and holy men and women. What is good and what is evil, what is sacred and what is profane, what is righteous and what is so very wrong will become far more apparent as we learn of our nature revealed by DNA and our place on planet earth. Torturing people to force conversion and good behavior is fast becoming a tragic testament to human history, to be retired with the errors of honorable scriptures in dignified but necessary editing. Childhood’s end is coming to all tribes of the human race around the world, awaiting the loving patience and enlightened wisdom of qualified scholars, healers, and inspired artistry.

  5. edmcarthur says:

    The West has a lot to answer for here, preaching about democracy and human rights and justifying bloody wars as humanitarian intervention yet propping up the Saudi regime(not just passive silence) the Gulf States,UAE all despotic and all supporting ISIS , and all because of Oil and trade. We should not accept any platitudes about freedom from any of them

  6. Russ says:

    He’s a true hero of our times.

  7. Terry Mac. says:

    The state of Saudi Arabia is a stain on the human race, the silence of Western governments whilst this heroic man is tortured for merely THINKING differently and expressing his thoughts honestly, is an utter disgrace. Raif Badawi should be released immediately, as he has committed NO CRIME.

  8. Diederich Hinrichsen says:

    This judgement is typical for the version of ISLAM which is being exported from Saudi Arabia to many countries all over the world. Many people are killed these days in order to spread the Saudi Arabian version of ISLAM. New York, Madrid, London, Paris,…,
    The United States and their satellites in Europe remain still while this process is going on and is accelerating.
    Some citizens in the West begin to move, but their governments suppress these movements. There is a lot of oil in the Saudi Arabian peninsula…

  9. Ilias says:

    Please Please stop this punishment

  10. Jon Gardiner says:

    How appalling -especially in the light of Charlie Hebdo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *