Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi described in his first letter from prison how he “miraculously survived 50 lashes” as part of a conviction that sparked an international outcry, according to German weekly Der Spiegel in a report to be published on Saturday. Badawi was arrested in 2012 for offences including insulting Islam, cyber crime and disobeying his father, which is a crime in Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced last year to 10 years in jail, a fine of 1 million riyals ($265,00) and 1,000 lashes. In his letter, Badawi recalled how he received the first round of lashes in January when he was surrounded by a cheering crowd that yelled “Allahu akbar”.
All this cruel suffering happened to me only because I expressed my opinion.
Badawi’s letter is part of a book titled “1,000 Lashes: Why I Say What I Think” due to be published in Germany on April 1. Der Spiegel reported that the German government has warned against publication of the book because it could put the blogger’s life at risk. Human rights groups and several western governments have called on Riyadh to cancel the sentence of 1,000 lashes. Earlier this month, Germany’s economy minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said during a visit in Riyadh that he had discussed human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and suggested a pardon for Badawi.