Opinion Columnists

Sunday 30 April 2017

Thank God it's not Friday

Raif Badawi. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Raif Badawi. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

John Masterson

Most of us say something along the lines of TGIF as the week's work nears an end. We are looking forward to the weekend and a bit of fun and down time. For most Fridays in 2015, I also thought about Raif Badawi for whom Friday brings nothing but terror. Each Friday he faces 50 lashes in public in Saudi Arabia for setting up a discussion website called Free Saudi Liberals.

Since the first session of his 1000 lashes the torture has been postponed each week as the religious police feel that it is important that you are in good health when you are flogged. There is no shortage of time. He also got ten years in jail for his 'crime'. Mind you, it could be worse. They decided not to try him for apostasy, departing from his religion, and if found guilty that carried the death sentence. It is enough to make you want to lodge a complaint to the UN Human Rights Council.

I have been in Saudi Arabia. I met with nothing but generous hospitality and friendliness. It never occurred to me that I was committing thought crimes punishable by death. A simple sentence like "I wonder what God, if there is a God, would think about having to get children baptised to get into a school" commits all of the essential crimes.

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