Speaking in Berlin today (31 July), Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, said:
“I am shocked at the tough sentence imposed on the blogger and internet activist Raif Badawi. Six hundred lashes of the whip and seven years’ imprisonment are not only out of all proportion, but utterly inhuman.
Freedom of opinion is a precious commodity and a universal human right. I call upon the Saudi Arabian authorities to release Raif Badawi and to protect the right of their citizens to freedom of opinion.”
The blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and 600 lashes of the whip for posting criticism of Islam on his website, among other things. The sentence was passed by a court of first instance and is not yet final. A higher court had previously rejected the charge of apostasy, for which Badawi would have been in danger of the death sentence.
Raif Badawi was the moderator of an internet forum calling for a free debate on the role of religion. In court, Badawi expressed regret that comments on his site might have injured Muslims’ religious feelings.
The German Government regularly raises the human rights situation and specific cases with the Government of Saudi Arabia.