English PEN is holding a weekly vigil outside the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in London in support of activist and blogger Raif Badawi.
Badawi was convicted in May 2014 for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of one million riyals (£175,000) and a 10-year prison sentence, as well as 1,000 lashes.
Last Friday (9th January), after morning prayers, Badawi was flogged 50 times. This punishment will continue every Friday until he has received the total 1,000 lashes.
Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: “Raif Badawi was exercising his peaceful right to freedom of expression. There is no justification for any criminal charges, let alone a prison sentence or a public flogging.”
She added: “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to stop this extreme corporal punishment and release Raif Badawi from prison. We call on the Prime Minister to fulfil his commitment to free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders by taking effective action.”
English PEN, with Index on Censorship and other partners fighting for human rights, will hold weekly vigils at the embassy every Friday at 9am until the floggings are halted.
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