Raif Badawi just can’t keep his mouth shut. The Saudi Arabian man boldly denounces his government and runs a progressive Facebook page where he discusses hot Saudi topics like atheism and women’s rights. When Badawi created a web forum for liberal Saudis, the government of Saudi Arabia said “enough” and found Badawi guilty of “insulting Islam (i.e. apostasy) and sentenced him to 1,000 lashes. Problem is, 1,000 lashes would kill a man so the sentence had to be split into 20 sessions of 50 lashes each.
Crowds gathered before the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah this week and watched jubilantly as Badawi, hands bound and stern-faced, took his weekly 50 lashes (to be carried out each Friday for twenty weeks). The second set of fifty lashes came due but a problem presented itself. The first 50 lashes had almost killed him. Doctors intervened and ruled that Badawi was not medically fit to have the holy crap beat out of him again and the second punishment phase was postponed [cue loud groan from the Saudi citizens].
Although Western countries find lashing to be an unbelievably bizarre and barbaric form of punishment, canings and lashings are allowed in foreign judicial systems that follow the Islamic Sharia Law which is a significant source of legislation in Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Canings and lashings are also permissible forms of punishment in other Islamic nations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and in the predominately Christian-nation Bahamas. In most of these countries, the law also allows beheading, stoning, amputation, and mutilation as permissible forms of punishment. And in case you are wondering, yes, as would be expected, crime rates are believed to be significantly lower than in Western nations.
For canings, officials say it is common to use a thick rattan cane, about 1 inch in diameter, soaked in water. Lashings are conducted using whips or straps. The pain from lashings and canings has been described by victims as “beyond excruciating”.
Example law (Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure)
Here’s the official law which dictates Islamic Shariah Law be implemented in Saudi Arabia.
Article 1 : Courts shall apply Shari’ah principles, as derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah (the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) to the cases that are brought before them.
Here is one item of Sharia law regarding lashing:
“The woman and man found guilty of sexual intercourse, lash each one of them with a hundred lashes and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion (i.e. Law) of Allah and those who launch a charge against chaste women and produced not four witnesses (to support their allegation), flog them with eighty stripes and reject their evidence…” Qur’an, 24:2-4.
Lest you think the flogging of Badawi is too severe, here are verses regarding “apostasy” which dictate the true punishment for insulting Islam (or renouncing your faith) should be death.
“A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle.” Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:271 (Sunni Islam orally translated Law)