Saudi Arabian Liberal Blogger Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison and 1000 Lashes for Insulting Islam

raif-badawiSince so many people say you can’t criticize Islam based on the actions of a few “radicals,” then let’s talk about this, shall we? An activist Saudi blogger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine that equates to just over a quarter of a million U.S. dollars for the horrific and outrageous crime of – criticizing some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful clerics.

Raif Badawi, a husband and father of three, dared to set up a website called Free Saudi Liberals where people could have public and open debate in Saudi Arabia. Then he had the “audacity” to criticize some of the religious leadership within the powerful Middle Eastern nation. And for that he’s been sentenced to a decade in jail, a massive fine and will endure 50 lashes, once a week for 20 weeks.

Following his conviction, his wife and children fled to Canada.

According to a witness who was at the public beating (who asked for anonymity out of fear that the Saudi government might punish them), “Raif Badawi’s feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out.” This beating lasted for upwards of 15 minutes in front of hundreds of onlookers.

When the beating was over, many within the crowd shouted, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!,” which essentially means “God is great.”

The United States and other Western nations have condemned the punishment.

Did radical Islam do this? Was this the act of ISIL or al-Qaeda? No. This is Saudi Arabia, arguably the most powerful nation in the Middle East, doing this.

Now, to be fair, Saudi Arabia governs by a much stricter version of Islamic doctrine than some other Muslims nations. But they still share some of the same oppressive ideologies based upon the same religious principles that the majority of Muslims support. Many of these nations are still highly oppressive toward women, almost none of them allow homosexuals to be openly gay and freedom of speech is not exactly celebrated (if not outright condemned) in many nations governed by Sharia law.

Might I also remind everyone of the case a few years ago involving a 19-year-old Saudi women who was sexually assaulted by several men in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes – for the penalty of being in a car with a male who was not a relative.

And let’s also look at how homosexuality is viewed in the Muslim world.

Here’s a global map from The Washington Post of countries and their laws pertaining to homosexuality:

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 2.52.21 PM

Notice how the orange and dark orange is primarily centered around predominately Islamic nations? Though, to be fair, there are a couple of Christian nations in Africa (Uganda for example) that are very harsh toward homosexuals. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the overwhelming majority of the nations with laws banning homosexual activity outright, or even sentencing homosexuals to death, are almost all Islamic nations ruled by some variation of Sharia law.

So while we’re having this debate about Islam, it’s easy to say that every religion has its radicals and that you can’t judge an entire religion based off the actions of a small percentage. And that is correct. Every religion does have its radicals. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of any organized religion. What the Muslim world needs more of is people like Badawi fighting against those who use Islam to oppress millions; it needs far less of the types who gathered to watch him get brutally beaten for daring to take a stand for free speech.

But Raif Badawi’s punishment isn’t being administered by Islamic radicals like ISIL or al-Qaeda. The 19-year-old woman who was brutally assaulted wasn’t sentenced to 200 lashes by the Taliban. Islamic terrorists don’t run Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Qatar where homosexuality is punishable by death.

Those are just ordinary sovereign Islamic nations.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • sherry06053

    We still have no business butting in to other countries’ culture. It is not up to us to decide what is right and wrong for other people. Christians are not innocent of their atrocities. By us condemning others for their version of justice, yet complaining when people try to escape to the US and are turned away or threatened with deportation back, is no better than Christians fighting abortion, yet unwilling to help feed poor children and educate them in this country. We have been and are going through our own struggles. When we are a perfect country, then we can judge others. Until then, they are going to have to fight their own oppression like we have had to, and are still doing.

    • Ryan Hudson

      There are actually many food pantries and food drives and homeless programs that are set up specifically by Christian communities. Just because you don’t like a group of people doesn’t mean you should lie about them. I still don’t see how your views or Christian views on abortion have anything to do with an innocent man being publicly tortured…I’m sure though that your stance would be much different though if the man holding the whip was a Christian fanatic.

      • sherry06053

        I am not a Christian – I am an atheist. I am not lying about anything. My opinion is that we have no business butting into other countries’ cultures. Their beliefs are different than ours. It doesn’t mean ours are right and theirs are wrong. He was not innocent – if it is against their laws to do what he did, then he knew that. My comparison of the US turning away asylum for people seeking it from any other country vs. the anti-abortion mentality is exactly the same thing. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not. The very same people who are anti-immigration are the same ones who are anti-choice. We need to butt out of other countries’ culture and let them work it out on their own. How many black people died during our civil rights movement? And we still aren’t all that much better off because they are still dying. We have enough problems.

      • jimv1983

        I’m not saying it’s our place to interfere in the affairs of other countries but to say that acts like sentencing gays to death is “just their culture” is ridiculous. If human rights are being infringed upon it doesn’t matter what culture says. Fuck other people’s culture if it condones treating people that way.

        I’m an atheist too and the fact that you would respect the religious beliefs of others when those beliefs result in the inhumane treatment of others amazes me.

      • sherry06053

        Gays being sentenced to death? Where the heck did THAT come from??? It is NOT our business to police or to determine who is right and who is wrong. If the UN wants to step in, fine, but our system is not perfect, and we have no business telling other countries with different beliefs that they are wrong. If THOSE citizens want to fight those battles, then they should, but it’s not up to us. Especially in the Middle East, where their belief in Mohammad is just as strong as our country’s belief in Jesus. And…what about China? Based on your statement, we would need to invade them, take them over and change them completely. But they don’t have oil…What about all of the indigenous tribes in Africa? You think we should go to places where very few “civilized” people have been and redirect their culture? Who’s to say we are right?

      • jimv1983

        What do you mean where did that come from? It came from the article. Look at the map. The dark orange is “homosexual acts can be punished by death”.

        I never said we should police the world. What I said was the fact that it is “their culture” is not an excuse for the way people are treated. If human rights are being violated then fuck their culture.

      • Mhizz

        I am pro choice… I am a christian. I am a christian that has a grasp of what world we all live in and how sad it is. I am also anti-immigration, I absolutely support asylum though. It’s the extent that dumb ass nobama is taking immigration to that is going to help ruin OUR country. Sherry you should stop grouping and generalizing EVERYTHING. It shows how narrow minded and biased you are.
        Immigration, in America, was meant for things like asylum, in this case someone being beaten and what not for his views probably should be allowed into our free country lol. I don’t think we need to attack, in any way, a country for something like this but we should allow the people a legitimate escape.
        Btw I also support / don’t care if gays are allowed to marry, cause i’m sure you think ALL christians are totally against it. 🙂

    • Jim Bean

      If you are going to embrace that attitude that’s fine. But then don’t think you can invite them into this country and effeictively cry foul when they visit their atrocities upon us.

      (You assault Christians as the enemies of education and defend Muslims who wouldn’t permit women to even get an education. Excuse me while I bang my head on the desk a few times.)

      • sherry06053

        I didn’t invite anyone anywhere. I was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the people posting. Just as we need to accept other country’s cultures, people coming here need accept ours, to some extent. What people, here, do in their own home is just as much none of our business as what other people do in their own country. Yes, I do “assault Christians” as the enemy of education, but I will never defend Muslims who do not believe in education for women. As a matter of fact, I will never defend any religion. But I do defend the right for people to believe what they want to believe. As I said, I am an atheist. And, Jim…you need to bang your head just a touch harder. Please? For me?

  • BobLoblaw

    Religion. Ugh. And some people still do not understand why there are atheists.

    • jimv1983

      I’m an atheist only because I lack belief in any supernatural controlling power. It has nothing to do with any of the other stuff that people do in the name of religion. All that stuff makes me an antitheist.

      • BobLoblaw

        That’s cool and I understand what you are saying. My post was basically just an reason to complain about how something man made (religion) can be such a horrible thing disguised as good thing (in their own mind).

      • jimv1983


      • Jim Bean

        Even their charitable work makes you antitheist? I ask because when I do a google search for Catholic Charities I get more than a million hits. When I google Atheist Charities I get – not much of anything.

      • jimv1983

        The bad stuff done by religion out weights any good.

        And since when does charity have to be done in the name of a religion or lack of religion? Saying that you can’t find any atheist charities is like saying you can’t find any non-golfer charities and that somehow means that anyone that doesn’t play golf isn’t charitable.

      • Jim Bean

        First sentence is insanely preposterous. What ‘bad stuff’ you talkin’ about Willis? Peekin’ at what your doin’ under your covers? That’s worse than all the good done by the needy they take care of. You’re full of yourself.

      • BobLoblaw

        I make my donations to charities (W.W.P. & several animal rescue programs) anonymously. Never once have I been asked what religion I am making my donation in the name of. Usually I just get a “thank you”.

  • Cemetery Girl

    It is oppression using a religion as a justification. If Islam had never existed they would have still found a justification. For how long has Christianity been used to justify white, males as superior?

    • Jim Bean

      No they would not have found a justification. Otherwise, the same thing would be occurring in non-Muslim cultures.

      And no, Christianity has not promoted white males as superior. Christianity has (historically) tasked men with providing the economic support for the family and women with the nurturing support. That concept has given men the upper hand in the work force.

      The further we depart from that model, the worse off we are, in general.

      • Cemetery Girl

        You can be so confusing. You consistently support the Christian influence on our society, yet you’re an atheist?
        Anyway, yes Christianity has been used to support the superiority of white males. Verses of the Bible were used to advocate for slavery in the US. It has been quoted as proof of the inferiority of women. Believe it or not, I’m not anti-Bible, but it has been used as justification.
        And yes, if Islamic religion had never been created there would still be cause found for oppression. Putin isn’t Muslim, is he? North Korea isn’t an Islamic country. There are other countries where speaking out against those in power is a dangerous business. Fighting oppression is dangerous. It is a brave thing to do, and not easy.

      • Jim Bean

        I’m agnostic, not atheist. No one knows where something on the order of ‘god’ exists.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Sorry, confused you with someone else! The dangers of late night reading!!

      • Jim Bean

        I would add (since you put sincere thought into your replies and I owe it to you) that my support for Christian influence stems from my belief that society functions more harmoniously when it shares a common value set. What we have now is constant Left vs Right conflict because there is no authority that both sides rely on for direction and it will only get worse because now, each individual sees himself as his own god and the god that every one else should respect.

        I have no illusions that there will be a resurgence in the strength of religion in our society. I am absolutely certain it will not. When I point to how the deterioration of the common values that Christianity provided relates to the disputes of the day, I’m merely offering an observation.

        And I agree that all religions have quite often been used in pursuit of nefarious goals. As regards Christianity, I tend to fall on the side that Christianity is responsible for far more good than evil. As regards Islam I’ve been unable to detect anything in it that is beneficiary to social harmony and contentment.

      • Cemetery Girl

        I don’t believe that Christianity being our cultural cornerstone is the answer. Frankly, I know too many “good” Christians (members of a church, participate in activities in the church, display the proper signs, yet their actions show that it does not reach their hearts) to believe that a push for a Christian resurgence would make a difference. (This being said as someone that identifies as Christian. The influence of it only goes as deeply as the individual desires.)
        The divide between Left and Right is a problem. Labeling, to me, isn’t a bad thing. To me, it is like the inner cover of books, giving you a basic idea of the individual. It is the practice of judging based on those labels that is wrong. I have conservative friends. I have Republican friends. I have had some interesting discussions with people that on paper should have been my polar opposite, yet we had middle ground. Discussion is the key. Often, people have views that aren’t as different as they believe, but only discussion will reveal this and lead to building a middle ground. Of course politics is easier if we just break it down to Left and Right. If a politician just has to try to win an election because the people lean one direction or another, it eliminates the pesky need to have ideas and plans. That’s the far bigger problem with our country (and ties into the judgements problem), to be elected it is really just promote how much you represent that party. It goes beyond that, there’s also judgements that because of gender, race, religion, and so on that a person will or won’t feel as we do. Discussion, it will save this country.

  • Jim Bean

    Allen, when MMFA reads this, you too will receive a thousand lashes. They are busy over there right now doing what they can to prevent anyone from detecting a link between the barbaric acts committed in the name of Islam and the religion of Islam. (After proofing reading, I find that second sentence makes my head hurt.)