Saudi Arabia has given the world a new example of Sharia abuse. Sharia law continues to be used to target homosexuals, religious dissidents, women, and reporters. The latest sentence was handed down against Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website. He has now been sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes.
Badawi’s website included criticism of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and was accused of insulting Islam and religious authorities. Originally, the Kingdom wanted him charged with apostasy and subject to the death penalty. However, he was convicted of insulting Islam and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. The conviction led to worldwide condemnation and then an appellate court overturned the sentence. He was given a retrial and hit with an even harsher sentence.
In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is condemning Norway for not taking action to deter criticism of the prophet Mohammad. The Kingdom has been pushing for an international blasphemy standard. Saudi Arabia is one of our allies that has worked with the Obama Administration to create a new international blasphemy standard. The continued crackdown of anti-religious speech is part of its long-standing blasphemy abuses. For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. For recent columns, click here and here and here.
We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.
Many continue to try to dress up Sharia law by citing procedural or appellate rules while ignoring that it exists to impose an orthodox religious code on a population and routinely is used against social and political dissidents as well as bloggers and journalists. Notably, Badawi will not be represented by human rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair, since the lawyer has also been jailed and is currently awaiting trial on criminal charges for “breaking allegiance with the king,” and “making international organisations hostile to the kingdom”.