Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah for "insulting Islam" on the internet. His sentence began on Friday.
The sentence amounts to torture.
Supporters around the world have rallied to Badawi's defense on Twitter and Facebook. Al Jazeera has a roundup here.
The online network Badawi co-founded with fellow activist Suad al-Shammari declared May 7, 2012 a "day of liberalism." Their blog called the end of religious dominance over public life in Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty International condemns the barbaric punishment of free speech here:
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Raif Badawi will receive up to 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.
"The news that Raif Badawi's flogging will start tomorrow is shocking. The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately halt all plans to carry out this brutal sentence. Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment are prohibited under international law, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.
"It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression."
— Alex Neve (@AlexNeveAmnesty) January 8, 2015
Social media supporters are using the hashtags #FreeRaif, #IStandWithRaif and #JeSuisRaif.
— Evelyne Abitbol (@EvelyneAbitbol) January 9, 2015
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) January 9, 2015