The wife of a Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for ‘insulting Islam’ has said crowds were ‘cheering like they were at a beach party’ as he was publicly flogged.
Raif Badawi, 33, was sentenced to ten years in prison and corporal punishment in 2014, and the first 50 of his lashes – which his wife says nearly killed him – was filmed.
She is now asking the newly-instated Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to pardon her husband, urging Saudi-ally UK to put pressure on the Arab state.
Freedom fighter: Ensaf Haidar holds a picture of her husband Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and a decade in prison in 2015
Ensaf Haidar, who fled to Canada with the couple’s three children in 2013, tweeted the video from 2015 of her husband being flogged publicly this week.
‘This crowd is not a beach party, it’s how moderate Muslims act when they flog someone for expressing his own opinions,’ she wrote.
Ms Haidar has been campaigning tirelessly to secure her husband’s release, setting up the Raif Badawi Foundation to raise awareness of the case.
The first 50 of the 1,000 lashes Mr Badawi faces were administered in 2015, but following punishments has had to be postponed due to his health.
Ms Haidar says the 50 lashes nearly killed her husband, who suffers from high blood pressure.
Abhorrent: The family of Mr Badawi, 33, pictured in 2012 before his arrest, is urging the newly-ascended Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to pardon him
Disgusting: Crowds can be heard cheering as Mr Badawi was publicly flogged 50 times in 2015, a punishment which nearly killed him
She adds that the family have no idea how he is doing or when he is going to be flogged again.
‘We have not heard anything from Raif or from Saudi Arabia, but we know that he will face further punishment – we are not told when,’ Ms Haidar told MailOnline.
‘We urge the newly crowned Prince Mohammed Ben Salman to pardon Raif and prevent the 950 lashings being carried out as this is putting Raif’s life at risk.
‘We also ask why the government in the UK – an ally of Saudi Arabia – remains silent, and that Prime Minister Theresa May uses her good relationship with Saudi Arabia to work for Raif’s immediate release and send him back home to Canada to his family.’
Ms Haidar hopes that the recent crowning of a new second-in line to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may help her husband’s case.
Campaign: Ensaf Haidar, his wife, has been working tirelessly for her husband’s release, but has not heard from him since 2015
Fight: The Free Raif campaign has received global support and the Raif Badawi Foundation was set up to raise awareness of his punishment
The Crown Prince, 32 – the youngest defence minister in the world – is known for his efforts to modernise Saudi Arabia, and for promoting social media and internet connectivity.
Since his ascent, the powers of country’s feared religious police have been curbed, and non-religious musical concerts are now allowed.
His ‘Vision 2030’ plan for the country promises to build a ‘tolerant and thriving country in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions.
Mr Badawi founded website Free Saudi Liberals and called for free speech and was first detained in 2008, but released after questioning.
He was arrested again in June 2012, and charged with ‘insulting Islam through electronic channels’ before his conviction in 2014.
In December 2015, the European Parliament gave Badawi the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.