Saudi Supreme Court Upholds Conviction Of Blogger For “Insulting Islam”

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a blogger sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam”:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld an internationally condemned verdict against a liberal blogger who was publicly flogged after being found guilty of insulting Islam, state-linked news websites reported Sunday.

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sentence of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was lashed in January in a public square, is final and cannot be overturned without a royal pardon.

Badawi, imprisoned since 2012, initially was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through a blog he created.

After an appeal, a criminal court in Jiddah last year stiffened the punishment to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years after his prison term and fined $266,000.

In January, security officials flogged Badawi outside a mosque in Jiddah. Saudi rights activists said it was meant as a warning to others who think to criticize the religious establishment, of which the ruling family derives much of its authority.

Subsequent floggings were halted as the Supreme Court reviewed the case. A person close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said that because Badawi’s flogging has been halted since January, the Supreme Court ruling may exclude lashings. It was not immediately possible to clarify the details of the judges’ ruling.

The lashes had been scheduled to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week, according to the London-based rights group Amnesty International. The rights group has launched a global campaign to call for Badawi’s release and said Sunday that he remains at risk of being flogged.

These would be our “friends” in the region.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Religion, Science & Technology, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Scott says:

    And these are the people we are fighting and dying for. At least it is a liberal that is being flogged.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Our embrace of this heinous regime might once have made sense under the same logic that allowed us to embrace the monster Stalin in order to kill the monster Hitler, but that rationale has worn thin. There are no communists who need to be kept out of the ME, we are not especially dependent on Saudi oil anymore, and Saudi Arabia is a sponsor of anti-American and anti-Western ideologies and the terrorists that ideology spawns.

  3. James Pearce says:


    At least it is a liberal that is being flogged.

    Cute joke, Scott, but the joke’s on you if you think that’s what matters.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I agree with your assessment but would go a little farther. I think we need to start thinking about how closely we want to be associated with countries and regimes who support things that are opposed to just about everything we claim to stand for. That’s not limited to KSA.

    He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.

  5. Scott says:

    @James Pearce: No, it is obviously a failed attempt at humor on my part. Bad attempt at being a troll. I totally agree with Michael.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’m getting to the point of thinking we need to just follow the advice of Snagglepuss and Exit, stage left.

  7. James Pearce says:


    No, it is obviously a failed attempt at humor on my part.

    Oh I can appreciate the attempt.

    It just kind of falls flat because a “liberal” is not just a Prius-driving, organic food-eating, Democrat-voting, city-dwelling lefty. A liberal is also the kind of person that believes in freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech.

  8. DrDaveT says:

    He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years

    As horrific as the flogging and imprisonment are, this is actually the tell (for me, anyway) that we need to cut ties. Prohibiting people from leaving is reserved to the truly evil regimes.

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So, this guy did pretty much the same thing that Pamela Gellar did, which generated resounding denunciations here. And he did the same kind of thing that the guy who made that “Innocence Of Muslims” did, and that preacher in Florida who threatened to burn a Koran.

    But he’s a hero here, and the people trying to shut him down are monsters. Here in the US, people who did what he did are denounced by the same people lionizing the Egyptian guy.

    Double standards much?

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Yes, flogging and imprisonment is absolutely the same as criticizing on Twitter.

    It’s like you’re Wile E. Coyote. Do you not see the edge of the cliff? Do you not see what will happen when you strap a rocket to your back? If I paint a tunnel on a stone wall will you run head first into it?

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: So, where do you draw the line? At what point is it OK to punish people for insulting Islam, and where does it go too far?

    So far you’re arguing X is not Y. I’d like to hear how you distinguish X from Y, ‘cuz I’m seeing a lot of similarities.

  12. george says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Um, if X involves criticism, and Y involves flogging, then I’d argue the distinction should be obvious (as my old physics profs liked to say).

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Let’s see. One is brutal government action. The other is random people on Twitter and Facebook expressing an opinion about Ms. Gellar.

    Government. Not government.

    Brutal. Not brutal.

    Oppression. Free speech.

    Is this why you have such a hard time talking politics? Is this how messed up it is inside that feverish brain of yours? Do you honestly need to have it explained to you? You aren’t able to grasp that government brutality is different categorically from the freely-expressed opinions of your fellow citizens?

  14. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Double standards much?

    In your zeal to root out hypocrisy, you fail to see that there is a difference between denying ad space to an obnoxious twit and flogging/jailing someone for insulting Islam.

    It’s pretty actually, to be so wrong and so very proud of it. And it’s absolutely hilarious that you think this reflects poorly on liberals.