10 years in prison + 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” in Saudi Arabia

AFP reports:

A Saudi court on Monday upheld a 10-year jail sentence and 1,000 lashes against Raef Badawi, founder of a liberal human rights group, for insulting Islam, an activist said.

He had been convicted of “creating a website insulting Islam” and criticising the role of the notorious religious police ….

Before his arrest, Badawi’s network announced a “day of liberalism” and called for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia.

As I noted when I blogged on the original sentence, 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 where these:

1. 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.

2. From Amnesty International:

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.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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Eugene Volokh · September 3