Jailed Saudi Blogger Awarded Europe’s Rights Prize

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Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger jailed and lashed for allegedly insulting Islam last year, has been awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize. Aljazeera reports:

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, has called for Saudi King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi and “release him so that he can accept the prize”. “[The blogger is an] unusually courageous and … exemplary man [who is facing punishment that] objectively can only be described as brutal torture,” Schulz said on Thursday.

Badawi, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam. He received the first 50 lashes of his sentence in public in January.  However, subsequent rounds of his punishment were suspended officially due to his declining heath, and after intense international pressure. The announcement of the Sakharov Prize was greeted with a standing ovation by EU legislators taking part in the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

“I can think of nobody more deserving [of the Sakharov Prize] than a man imprisoned for encouraging open debate in a country where it is not tolerated,” said Syed Kamall, the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists faction in the legislature, which was among the political groups that nominated the blogger for the award.

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