Saudi jailed Blogger Wins Award

Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi that  was  sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for insulting Islam and for and "other crimes" has been awarded the European Union's prize for human rights and freedom of thought.

Mr Badawi got the fIrst 50 lashes in January, angering The West and critic ed the  kingdom's human rights record, including its near total ban on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

British law maker, Syed Kamall,  a member of the European assembly,  nominated Mr Badawi for the EU prize.

"Saudi Arabia can lock up the man and they can lash him, but they will only strengthen amongst his countrymen the yearning for free speech and debate that he stands for," he said.

 Mr Badawi was given the International Writer of Courage award and was co-recipient of the PEN Pinter Prize earlier this month

Saudi Arabia's ambassador in London threatened "potentially serious repercussions" for its ties with Britain unless a more respectful discourse developed.

A Jeddah court gave the  sentence in 2012 after he criticised a  Saudi clergy in a blog and challenged the way religion is practised in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which follows the strict Wahhabi form of Islam, does not permit the public worship of other faiths or allow them to maintain places of worship inside the country.

In a new law last year, it included atheism as a terrorist offence.

The award is named in honour of Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. The prize was first awarded by the European Parliament annually in 1988.

Nelson Mandela got the first award.
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