A Saudi court has sentenced a activist to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for violating the nation’s anti-cybercrime law, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday.
A Jeddah Criminal Court found Raif Badawi, who has been in prison since June 2012, guilty this week of insulting Islam through his website and in television comments….
Unfortunately, none of the news stories I saw on this reported on exactly what speech was found to be punishable; if any of our readers can point me to a translation of the exact statements, or even a credible summary of the statements, I’d be much obliged. The best I could find was this passage from the Human Rights Watch report, but it’s not clear whether it’s the same thing that the court relied on:
On March 18, 2012, the well-known cleric Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Barrak issued a religious ruling declaring Badawi an “unbeliever … and apostate who must be tried and sentenced according to what his words require.” Al-Barrak claimed that Badawi had said “that Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists are all equal,” and that even if these were not Badawi’s own opinions but “an account of the words of others, this is not allowed unless accompanied by a repudiation” of such words.
UPDATE: Amnesty International gives a bit more detail, though I’d still love to see translations of the original articles:
The charges against Raif Badawi relate to a number of articles he has written, including one about Valentine’s Day — the celebration of which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. He was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (also known as the religious police) in the conclusion of his article. The charges against him also mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website, including one insinuating that the al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”.
Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.