According to reports, a Saudi court sentenced a rights activist to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a "secular” network and alleged insults to Islam.
The news was shared by Badawi's lawyer Waleed Abualkhair on his Twitter account, adding that the judge ordered the closure of the website of the Saudi Liberal Network.
Abualkhair said that Badawi, a co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, was charged with criticizing the religious police, as well as calling for "religious liberalization."
Saudi Arabia has a strict code of conduct when it comes to political or even social expression. But apparently it’s not meant for the royal family that runs the country. It’s the commoners who are usually subjected to punishment if they try to raise their voice against the vices of the regime.
According to a human rights monitoring and advocacy group in Saudi Arabia, several rights activists have been sentenced to jail for being ‘outspoken’ or allegedly inciting religious hatred.
Seven government critics were sentenced to prison on June 24, 2013, for allegedly inciting protests and harming public order, largely by using Facebook. A Saudi Arabian criminal court sentenced human rights defender Dr Abdulkareem Yousef al-Khoder to eight years’ imprisonment and a 10-year travel ban in the same month. In April, six reformist prisoners of conscience were kept behind bars, while 10 others, several of whom were out on bail, were released under a “pardon” on condition that they give up their activism.
There are many more cases but then again, this is not something limited to Saudi Arabia only. Social activism is absolutely banned in most of the Middle Eastern countries. In Bahrain, two human rights activists, father and daughter, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Zainab Al-Khawaja were jailedbecause of their political activism. Several people were imprisoned in Kuwait for insulting the country’s ruler on the social networking website, Twitter. So it’s a trend in the region and Raef Badawi’s detention is not an isolated case.