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Saudis Postpone 2nd Round Of Public Flogging For Jailed Blogger Raif Badawi

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was due Friday to receive the second of 20 rounds of 50 lashes, is getting a temporary reprieve. A doctor who examined Badawi found his wounds from last Friday's public flogging in Jiddah hadn't healed and determined the blogger would be unable to withstand another round. The doctor recommended the punishment be postponed by a week.

"Not only does this postponement on health grounds expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity," Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Program, said in a statement.

The human rights group was the first to announce the delay of Badawi's punishment.

As we have reported, Badawi was convicted last year of insulting Islam on Free Saudi Liberals, a now-shuttered website he created.

Elham Manea, a spokeswoman for Badawai, told NPR's Melissa Block on Thursday that Badawi wrote about "secularism, about what it means to have a free society, freedom of expression.

"When you think about it, he was just stating what many countries are living," she said. "He just wanted that in Saudi Arabia."

Badawi was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes — 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks — and ordered to pay about $266,000 in fines. A court had originally sentenced him to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, but a judge increased the sentence after an appeal.

Flogging is prohibited under the Convention against Torture, a law to which Saudi Arabia is party. The kingdom, a major ally of the U.S., is also a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The case has drawn widespread international criticism, including from the U.S. and the U.N.

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.