Saudi Arabian Court Sentences Blogger To 7 Years, 600 Lashes Under Cybercrime Law

from the whipping-up-some-censoring dept

It is no secret that Saudi Arabia, still a chief American ally in the Middle East, has a horrible reputation on human rights, speech, and its policies regarding internet use. Most recently, they have attempted to put a stranglehold on internet communications via VoIP services. Don't forget as well that any citizen of Saudi Arabia that deigns to use Twitter has given up their claim on their immortal soul, which is sort of an odd stance to take given that members of the Saudi royal family have invested in the microblogging service. And, of course, as any conservative theocracy, they aren't particularly interested in having critical discussions about the state religion, despite having recently made statements suggesting otherwise.

Actions speak louder than words, as the saying goes, and as one Saudi court has dealt an activist blogger 7 years and 600 lashes, I think we can say Saudi Arabia still sucks at free speech. Raif Badawi had been imprisoned for the past few months for the apparent crime of starting a liberal blog seeking to start religious dialogue within Saudi Arabia.

He is accused of, among other things, breaking Sharia law and starting a website that infringed on religious values.

According to Haidar, her husband just wanted to encourage discussion about religion in his homeland. But starting a liberal Internet forum in conservative Saudi Arabia can be a dangerous pursuit.
It's a lesson in a great many things for us here in America. First, some of our allies have an awful lot of blood on their hands. Second, allowing any special interest groups, not just religion, to get their meat hooks into the censorship of speech is a dangerous precipice on which to teeter. Finally, free speech, secularism, and the enlightenment should be a global goal, not a local one. For instance, take the difficulty of getting Badawi any representation from the legal community into account.
"No one wanted to take his case," said Waleed Abualkhair, Badawi's attorney. "Because they believed that anyone who'd take this kind of case, that means he destroys his (own) reputation. But I don't believe in that. I believe that everyone has his right to have a lawyer. And I believe that Raif is innocent."

Abualkhair is more than just Badawi's attorney. He's also his brother-in-law and a fellow human-rights activist also on trial in Saudi Arabia.
When the only person willing to represent you in a case about speech is himself on trial for his speech as well, you have a massive problem. Perhaps, like me, your first thought in reading this was to wonder what you could do to help. A noble thought, to be sure, but my first thought is what are the people we elect to represent us doing to help. They should be on this already, not relying on human rights groups.

In the end, if Saudi Arabia wants us to believe their noise about becoming more open to change, it would be best if they started by freeing this peaceful blogger.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 9:02pm

    Wonder what they would do to their Princess,
    oh yeah ... slavery is ok over there.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    RD, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 10:06pm

    Actual Sentence: Death

    Um, yeah...you cant survive 600 lashes. Unless they are lashing him with a spaghetti noodle., thats a de-facto death sentence.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 10:12pm

    I'm sure our government (pick a country) will lend support. Soon. Just as soon as we are not dependent on oil.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2013 @ 10:43pm

    Well, thankfully the US has the moral high ground here, I mean it's not like the US would ever say, lock someone up for three years without charge for embarrassing them, or torture people and call it 'enhanced interrogation' or any inhumane things like that.

    Nope US definitely has the high ground here, so I'm sure they'll be real quick to condemn the treatment of this blogger as inhumane and a violation of justice.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 11:31pm

    This is what happens when you let religion infect the law...

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:05pm

      Re:

      So...would an officially atheist state, such as China, be better?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Perhaps your assumptions are incorrect.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Rekrul, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        So...would an officially atheist state, such as China, be better?

        In theory yes. China's human rights abuses have nothing to do with their religion or lack of it.

        As soon as the law starts incorporating religion, it starts to criminalize things based on what others don't like.

         

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        •  
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          Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 8:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          An officially atheist state like China would NOT be better, because states like China make the State their religion.

          A secular state that takes no position on religion would typically be best. The problem in America is that too many people care about the faith of their representatives....

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 3:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Actually, abolition of the state altogether would be best. Government is inherently the enemy of freedom.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:52am

    Goddamn, this story makes me feel like a kid again.

     

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    identicon
    The Old Man in The Sea, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Islam, Sharia Law and life

    You have to understand the tenets of Sharia law and its application within the framework of an Islamic state, to appreciate what is happening here.

    There is no free speech, there is no dissent against Sharia Law. There is fully a desire to convert all people in all nations to Islam and convert all legal systems to Sharia Law. Everything they do (the Saudi rulers) is directed to this effort.

    When they invest money in any venture, it is solely to gain control of that area for the advancement of their cause. You must always remember that the Saudi leadership are good Muslims and will always do what they can to further Islam.

    One should never expect them to fall in line with the principles espoused by unbelievers and infidels. This is anathema to them.

    Hence, there is nothing unusual about what has happened here, even though from the perspective of people living in western countries it is barbaric. The comment from That One Guy above appropriately sums up the dichotomy of it all.

    To them, your opinion counts for absolutely nothing as you are an infidel and from the Muslim point of view, you would only have two choices, convert or die. As for me, I would have three choices, convert, die or pay ruinous financial penalties.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:03am

      Re: Islam, Sharia Law and life

      Sounds like many other religions, including laissez faire capitalism.

       

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        kennon, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: Islam, Sharia Law and life

        yeah because "laissez faire" literally translates to "we give a shit about what you say"...dumbass

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: Islam, Sharia Law and life

          Yes, I'm sure it "literally" means what you claim.
          And there is no worship of Ayn Rand as tho she were some sort of god.
          And no one gives a shit about anything other than what you type into the comments section.
          And everyone else is a dumbass except you

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:57am

    Rep. Mike Rogers is introducing a bill that would essentially be the same except "religion" is replaced with "government" and blogs like this one that are critical of relig- er, government would be illegal (not just defamatory) under Rogers' cybercrime bill.
    Posts such as this carry a mandatory 30 lashes.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      FAZ SHA, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 2:48pm

      Re: Collecting and destroying Ahadiths(sharia Laws) is Sunnah!!

      If following historical facts are true then
      Collecting & destroying (BONEFIRE) Ahadiths is SUNNAH!!
      1) The Messenger (SAW)ordered his companions not to ask him to dictate anything else besides the Quran.---was narrated from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Do not write anything from me; whoever has written anything from me other than the Qur'an, let him erase it." (Narrated by Muslim, al-Zuhd wa'l-Raqaa'iq, 5326)

      2) Whatever Hadith collection was present among the companions, it was ordered to be ignited.

      3) Hazrat Abu Bakr(RA) made a bonfire of his own collection and banned others from quoting any hadith. (Tudween E Hadith Page 249)

      4) Hazrat Omar(RA) after giving his best thought for one month, reached the conclusion to ban the compilation and collection of ahadith. Hazrat Omar also asked to submit all ahadith in possession of the public who were under oath and then ignited them all. He also sent a circular in all cities to destroy any evidence of hadith.
      (Tadween e Hadith,Vol.1, page 400)

      5) - Hazrat Ali gathered all the noble companions and said, "Disperse all of you and erase all Ahadith. Previous nations were destroyed for forsaking Allah's Revealed Books and following the collections of their scholars." (Mukhtasar Jaame' Bayan-il-'Ilm pg 33)

      6) - "I have seen Ahadith in the Six Right Ones that completely cancel out the Qur'an."
      (Nizaam-ul-Qur'an by Sheikh Hamiduddin Farahi)

      IIf the above mentioned events are true then should we follow the above mentioned Sunnah to ignite all ahadith collections that we have today with us ?

      FOR FURTHER GUIDANCE READ http://tolueislam.org/Parwez/mh/mh_01.htm

      Also read : http://drshabbir.com/library/dualislam.pdf
      & http://drshabbir.com/library/criminals.pdf‎
      http://youtu.be/lJFwOqoTXvQ

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:17am

    Islam, Sharia Law and life

    whilst what you say isn't entirely without merit, it does help to distinguish between hardline/extremist Islam, and the majority of it's adherents who are just standard religious people.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:07am

      Re: Islam, Sharia Law and life

      What percentage of "standard religious people" are being forced into said religion(s) and face persecution if / when they fail to toe the line.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:43am

    the US government wont say anything. this poor guy is speaking the truth, he is exposing things about the government that aren't liked. sounds, to an extent, like Snowden. when he is being condemned out of hand, why think that anyone else doing similar somewhere else is going to be spoken about as if he deserved help. when even supposed 'democratic countries' keep quiet at this disgraceful behaviour, it shows how far off the path those countries have strayed. the future is looking pretty bleak!

     

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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:53am

    America is no exemplar

    The arrogance of the US on this topic is amazing. It has millions of people rotting in jail for victimless drug crimes. The drug war is one of the worst holocausts of human rights violations in human history. It is rich for the US to pretend like it is some shining exemplar of human rights, when it has the drug war--among many other fascist/police state policies, from selective service/conscription, to confiscatory taxation, regulation of markets, minimum wage law, pro-union legislation, draconian and fascist patent and copyright law, antitrust law, extraterritorial application/bullying of IP and antitrust and drug and gambling law, and so on. THe US is a fascist police state. Saudi Arabia is also terrible, but that does not mean the US is "modern" or civilized.

     

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    crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:52am

    "Finally, free speech, secularism, and the enlightenment should be a global goal"

    Be careful what you wish for. "Helping" to correct others who you don't agree with is a slippery slope the U.S. has been bobsledding down for quite awhile.

     

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      jameshogg (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:56am

      Re:

      But if the U.S. does not do anything, that is also a slippery slope of collusion through bystander effects.

      Put it this way: if a crazed killer was shooting innocent people on the street and the police were doing nothing to stop it, you would not say that "lack of government intervention" was the right course of action, and you would quite rightly go further and say that the government not doing anything was a form of deliberate alliance with the killer. In other words, the government can possess some degree of fascism by doing nothing.

      It is also worth noticing the parallels here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law , and how some countries make it a legal obligation to call for help if a dying person is spotted. They are beginning to recognise that bystanders have a great deal of responsibility in these situations whether they like it or not, and should be seen as dangerous if they are inhumane enough to let dying citizens fade away needlessly.

      This also makes sense from a Leftist's point of view, where some redistribution of wealth is necessary to give bare necessities to those who need it most.

      I hope I should not have to mention Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia. And yes, I also happen to think Afghanistan under the Taliban, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and North Korea under the Kim-Il-Sung regime meet the conditions for intervention.

      This doesn't have to be unilateral, by the way. There is clearly a change occurring in the Zeitgeist where totalitarianism, genocide and fascism are becoming the explicit enemies, and other democracies should feel free to join in at any time. It would sure cut the tax rates and set a global precedent.

      And the U.S. should DEFINITELY take up this kind of responsibility, especially how it persists with its huge military industrial complex. Since they have burdened themselves with this weaponry, they have made themselves responsible, and they have made themselves obligated to stop genocides and take out regimes that have hit the bottom of the barrel of humanity.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re:

        And the U.S. should DEFINITELY take up this kind of responsibility, especially how it persists with its huge military industrial complex.


        I emphatically disagree. A huge part of the reason that the US has become tyrannical, both domestically and internationally, is that the US decided that it should be the world's policeman.

        It should not. That's too much power in a single entity, power that will (and has been) inevitably be abused. And taking on that mantel is destroying us.

        That's not to say that atrocities should be ignored. But no single nation should be judge, jury and executioner.

         

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          jameshogg (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 6:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well from what I witnessed as a teenager during 9/11 and the shift to fighting dictators instead of supporting them, the U.S. at no point claimed that other democracies were not allowed to join in. So "self-appointed policeman" does not seem to hold weight.

          I see this as multilateral. "A" policeman implies there can only be one. But I do not believe that. The U.K. for instance was brave enough to defy all public opinion and do the right thing in March 2003 even if they did join in with the U.S. in committing stupid exaggerations and distortions about WMD. But there has never been a war, just or unjust, where politicians have NOT made war-time exaggerations such as this, so I really consider the WMD "lie" a frivolous issue.

          But the fact that they joined in shows that the moral issue is not as unilateral as it seems or has to be.

           

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 7:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I emphatically disagree. A huge part of the reason that the US has become tyrannical, both domestically and internationally, is that the US decided that it should be the world's policeman."

          That's not even close to being correct. The world's policeman would have stepped into Rwanda, the Sudan, and a myriad of other places where we could have, and should have, helped but didn't. Remember that getting involved does not always mean militarily. To stand idly by while attrocities are committed is a horrible way to go about being a world citizen.

          "That's not to say that atrocities should be ignored. But no single nation should be judge, jury and executioner."

          It should if there is a threat to that nation's existence. To claim that radical Islam does not present a threat to the United States is laughable. To claim that this Saudi decision doesn't represent radical Islam is likewise laughable. Therefore, this is something in which we should be involved.

           

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        crade (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Being forced to live by the standards of someone who dissagrees with you because they can overpower you can feel a lot like oppression to the growing number of people on the other side of the barrel.

         

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        •  
          icon
          jameshogg (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 5:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          But you still do not address my point. If I were a Hutu or Tutsi living in Rwanda, would I have not been entitled to claim that the rest of the world standing by idly was a great deal of oppression on their part? Would I have not been entitled to say that NOT pulling the trigger felt like a callous iron fist?

          And if I were an Iraqi-Kurd, or an Iraqi Shia or Sunni, would I have not been entitled to claim that something had to have been done about the fact that there was no international law Saddam Hussein did not break?

           

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:29pm

        Re: Re:

        They should definitely do a remake of Team America.
        USA
        USA
        USA
        Fuck Yeah

         

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  •  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 3:30am

    While it's not nearly as bad I don't think the US has any moral high grounds to be criticizing such a thing anyway. Sadly.

     

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