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Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Flogged For Insulting Islam

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whom we told you about on Thursday, was flogged today in the city of Jeddah, part of a sentence he was handed for insulting Islam.

The Associated Press reports that Badawi, who was flogged in public with his hands and feet shackled, remained silent during the punishment of 50 lashes that lasted 15 minutes. The news service quoted an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous because of the fear of government reprisals.

Amnesty Internationalalso confirmed that the flogging occurred, calling it "a vicious act of cruelty."

Badawi was found guilty last year of insulting Islam on Free Saudi Liberals, a website he created, and also ordered to pay about $266,000 in fines. A court originally sentenced him to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, but a judge increased the sentence after an appeal.

Amnesty said he will receive 50 lashes each week for 20 weeks.

Badawi's website, now closed, criticized Saudi clerics and their interpretation of Islam.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, to cancel the punishment.

Badawi's wife and their three children moved to Canada after his arrest.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.