Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years for insulting Islam, will need hospital attention after each flogging
Wife of a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes ‘for insulting Islam’ has accused the government of killing her husband week by week - and spoke of her agony at ‘watching him die one lash at a time’.
Raif Badawi, who wrote a blog on human rights and social change, is being flogged 50 times every Friday for supposedly insulting religious figures and undermining the regime - a charge he and his wife Ensaf Haidar strenuously deny.
The first 50 of the lashes were inflicted in front of hundreds in the main square in Jeddah last week - and the same was due to happen again today, and for the next 18 weeks, until all 1,000 have been completed.
It is suggested that Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three, will need hospital attention after each flogging; it has been suggested his body will not be able to sustain the assault over the coming weeks.
Indeed, today's flogging was postponed on 'medical grounds', according to Amnesty International - although exactly why remains unclear.
For Ensaf Badawi, almost 6,000 miles away in Quebec, it is too much to bear.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: ‘Saudi Arabia is endangering his health and life – if they go through with the whole 1,000 lashes, they are killing him more every week. 'It is a criminal act.’
Ensaf and the couple's three children, Najwa, 11, Terad, 10, and Miriam, seven, have been living in a small town in Canada since November 2011.
They fled Saudi Arabia when Raif was arrested, spending two years living in Lebanon before being granted refugee status.
It was upped to 10 years and 1,000 lashes after he appealed the sentence.
‘I was surprised, because I never thought it would go this far,' Ensaf said.
'What he is has been accused of is not true. He did not insult the religion and Islam or any member of the government. 'The blog was only about social change and human rights.'
‘He did not do anything wrong - he is a prisoner of conscience.’
But on Thursday the Saudi government confirmed this week's flogging would go ahead in the Jeddah square, which has earned the grisly nickname 'Chop Chop Square' as the site of executions.
In all the time of Raif's imprisonment, Ensaf worked to shield her children from the reality of her husband's situation. But when they knew the floggings were due to go ahead, she realised she would have to tell them.
'They only knew their daddy was in prison, they didn't know he was sentenced to flogging,' she said.