International

Saudis reject Canada’s criticism of blogger lashes

MONTREAL: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday told Canada and its province of Quebec to stop criticizing the kingdom’s flogging of blogger Raef Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.”

“The kingdom does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs and rejects… the attack on the independence of its justice system,” the Saudi ambassador to Ottawa, Naif Bin Bandir Al-Sudairy, said in a letter sent last month and made public Wednesday.

It was sent to both governments of Canada and Quebec, which have granted asylum to Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children.

Quebec’s Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said on Wednesday that her government would “continue its defense of Mr. Badawi,” saying this was a “clear case of human rights violation.”

Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9, and subsequent rounds of punishment were postponed on medical grounds.

The 31-year-old’s case has sparked worldwide outrage and criticism from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, Canada and others.

In February, Quebec’s legislature passed a unanimous motion calling for Badawi’s release.

The Saudi letter, which echoed a March 7 statement by the kingdom’s foreign ministry, also expresses its “strong surprise and dismay at what is being said in some of the media.”

Saudi Arabia, it went on to say, “regrets these media outlets’ attacks against the kingdom and its judiciary.” -AFP

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