- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Saudi Arabian blogger was flogged in public after being convicted of a cybercrime for insulting Islam.

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashed and 10 years in jail. He was flogged 50 times on Friday and the lashings will continue weekly, BBCreported Saturday.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of roughly $266,000.

Mr. Badawi, the co-founder of now-banned website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.

In 2013 Mr. Badawi was cleared of apostasy charges, which would have resulted in a death sentence.

The flogging on Friday was carried out in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after Friday prayers, witnesses told BBC.

Agence France Presse reported Friday that Mr. Badawi arrived at the mosque in a police car and his charges were read out to him in front of the crowd before the flogging began.

Witnesses said that he was made to stand with his back facing the crowd so they could watch while he was whipped. Onlookers said he remained silent during the lashing.

The U.S. and human rights groups have condemned his conviction. On Thursday state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki urged the Saudi government to “cancel this brutal punishment” and review the case.

“The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of cruelty which is prohibited under international law,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, BBC reported.

“By ignoring international calls to cancel the flogging Saudi Arabia’s authorities have demonstrated an abhorrent disregard for the most basic human rights principles.”

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