Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blogger Raif Badawi Spared Flogging Friday in Saudi Arabia

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blogger Raif Badawi Spared Flogging Friday in Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt

Blogger Raif Badawi spared flogging Friday

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MONTREAL - The Quebec government said it would accelerate immigration procedures for Raif Badawi, the blogger in Saudi Arabia who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes but was spared Friday.

It was feared his punishment would resume after the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia upheld the sentence imposed on the blogger, but the Amnesty International office in Paris said it had received confirmation the punishment was postponed.

Badawi, 31, is not a Canadian citizen, although his wife and children fled Saudi Arabia in 2012 and settled in Sherbrooke, Que., in 2013.

Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, took to Twitter on Friday to call again for an end to her husband's punishment.

"I repeat my appeal to his majesty King Salman to pardon my husband ... and stop his flogging," she wrote.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said the province will give Badawi an immigration selection certificate on humanitarian grounds.

Badawi would still need to apply for permanent residency federally, but the Quebec certificate would make the case a priority.

Weil was accompanied by members of all provincial parties in announcing the measure.

Badawi's detention and sentence have stirred up worldwide condemnation and Quebec politicians unanimously adopted a motion in February calling for his immediate release.

"I think it just shows that we're all of one mind," Weil said. "It means that we believe that his treatment is outrageous, how he's being treated and for what he has done, and it's beyond limiting freedom of expression -- it's cruel and unusual punishment, it's absolutely horrendous."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also spoken out against Badawi's treatment, but said Ottawa's influence is limited by the fact he is not a citizen. …

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