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Incarcerated Saudi blogger on hunger strike, wife says

11 December 2015 10:10



An imprisoned Saudi blogger convicted for criticizing the official Wahhabi ideology preached in Saudi Arabia is on hunger strike, his wife says.

Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, said on Thursday that her husband has been on a hunger strike since Tuesday after being transferred to a “new isolated” prison.

Haidar, who lives with their three children in Canada, called on the Saudi monarch, King Salman, to pardon Badawi. “Please unite my children with their father,” she said on Twitter.

Haidar will soon head to France to receive the Sakharov Prize that was awarded to her husband by the European Parliament for his courageous criticism of the kingdom’s extremist Wahhabi ideology and extremist clerics. The awarding ceremony will take place next week.

Badawi, in jail since 2012, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. The 31-year-old blogger’s flogging is to be carried out in 20 sessions. He received his first 50 lashes in January.

He has also been sentenced to $266,000 in cash fine and a 10-year ban on overseas travel.

This image, taken on June 11, 2015, shows activists gathered outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, DC, to protest the imprisonment and flogging of blogger Raif Badawi. (Photo by AFP)

Badawi was incarcerated over material on an internet forum that he created to encourage public debate, criticizing the influential Saudi clerics who preach Wahhabism. Criticism of Wahhabi clerics is viewed as a serious offense by Riyadh as the group plays an instrumental role in supporting the regime.

International human rights organizations have condemned Saudi Arabia for its repressive policies toward political dissent.

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