Monday, January 12, 2015

Saudi Arabia's 'outdated' brutality 'sparked by fear of online dissent,'

    Monday, January 12, 2015   No comments

Saudi Arabia's "outdated" government is cracking down on online dissent because it fears its power, a Saudi activist has said in the wake of the public flogging of blogger and activist Raif Badawi.

Mr Badawi, 30, a father of three, was convicted of cybercrime and insulting Islam after co-founding the now banned website Free Saudi Liberals. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of one million riyals (£175,000). On Friday he received the first 50 lashes in what will be a weekly ritual for the next 20 weeks.


Mr Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haider, currently in Canada, told The Independent on Sunday yesterday: "I never imagined Saudi Arabia would reach this level of cruelty. The kingdom and its rules forced these people to go to the internet and voice their dissent and their objections and then they were prosecuted."

The flogging of Mr Badawi is the latest incident of Saudi Arabia cracking down on high-profile cyber activists, many of whom are now too afraid to speak out in public.

Hala Al-Dosari, a US-based Saudi writer and activist, said the "outdated" government is trying to "deter crimes by inciting terror in people". Saudi Arabia, she added, was afraid of online dissent because it had worked to change the positions of some governments in the region.

"They don't want people to pick up momentum. They don't want people to start questioning religion, the legitimacy of the Saudi ruling family or the distribution of wealth.

"Online activism has raised the awareness of human rights of people." She said it had also "put so many activists and people who are expressing their opinions at risk".

Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

Islamic Societies Review Editors

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