Country: Saudi Arabia
In July 2013, a Saudi court sentenced Badawi to 600 lashes and 7 years in prison for insulting Islam and breaking the anti-cybercrime law by founding a liberal website. Following an appeal of the sentence, a criminal court re-sentenced him in May 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a 1 million riyal fine, and a 10-year travel and media ban following release. Badawi received the first 50 lashes in January 2015 in front of Al Juffali Mosque in Jeddah. Following an international outcry and a medical doctor’s finding that Badawi could not physically endure more lashings, no further lashings have yet been carried out. However, in June 2015 and March 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
In December 2015, the European Parliament honored Badawi with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which his wife Ensaf Haidar accepted on his behalf. Haidar, who is now based in Quebec, Canada with their three children, campaigns tirelessly for Badawi’s release and serves as president of the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom.
USCIRF Advocate: Commissioner Nadine Maenza
Op-Ed: Make Saudi Arabia's Vision of Tolerance a Reality (Deseret News, July 23, 2017)
Press Release: SAUDI ARABIA: Release Raif Badawi (July 28, 2016)
Congressional Testimony: Testimony of USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J., on "Blasphemy Laws and Censorship by States and Non-State Actors" (July 14, 2016)
Op-Ed: USA Today -- Rampant religious persecution against atheists (May 3, 2016)
Related Reports & Briefs
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
State Department International Religious Freedom Report
State Department statement on the sentence of Saudi Human Rights Activist Raif Badawi