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Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Flogged For Insulting Islam

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whom we told you about on Thursday, was flogged today in the city of Jeddah, part of a sentence he was handed for insulting Islam.

The Associated Press reports that Badawi, who was flogged in public with his hands and feet shackled, remained silent during the punishment of 50 lashes that lasted 15 minutes. The news service quoted an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous because of the fear of government reprisals.

Amnesty International also confirmed that the flogging occurred, calling it "a vicious act of cruelty."

Badawi was found guilty last year of insulting Islam on Free Saudi Liberals, a website he created, and also ordered to pay about $266,000 in fines. A court originally sentenced him to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, but a judge increased the sentence after an appeal.

Amnesty said he will receive 50 lashes each week for 20 weeks.

Badawi's website, now closed, criticized Saudi clerics and their interpretation of Islam.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, to cancel the punishment.

Badawi's wife and their three children moved to Canada after his arrest.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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