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Tipsheet

No Mercy: Saudis Flog Blogger Guilty of Apostasy, Thought Crime

We brought this story to you a few days ago. A pro-western blogger from Saudi Arabia, who allegedly spoke ill of his government and renounced Islam, was sentenced to be flogged publicly this week for his unpopular opinions and actions.

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Yet despite cries of outrage from the international community -- including the United States government -- the sentence was carried out yesterday as promised. Horrendous:

A Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jiddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators, a witness to the lashing said.

The witness said Raif Badawi's feet and hands were shackled during the flogging but his face was visible. He remained silent and did not cry out, said the witness, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity fearing government reprisal.

Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He had criticized Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded. The blog has since been shut down. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals or about $266,600.

Rights activists say Saudi authorities are using Badawi's case as a warning to others who think to criticize the kingdom's powerful religious establishment from which the ruling family partly derives its authority.

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His sentence stipulates that he will be flogged 50 times every seven days for the next 19 weeks. And sadly, it appears there is nothing Western governments -- or humanitarian groups anywhere -- can do about it.

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