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January 23, 2015 3:57 pm

Jewish Federation CEO Offers to Take 100 Lashes on Behalf of Saudi Blogger

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Raif Badawi was punished by the Saudi government for criticizing the country's clerics in his blog. Photo: Facebook.

The CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Hannah Rosenthal, is among a group of US activists offering to take 100 lashes each in place of a Saudi blogger punished for criticizing his country’s clerics, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Saudi Arabia sentenced Raif Badawi, 31, to 10 years in prison, a £177,000 fine and 1,000 lashes. He faces 20 weekly floggings of 50 lashes each, which are to be delivered every Friday in front of a mosque in Jeddah by the Saudi regime. His health was compromised by the first 50 lashes to the point that the second set of 50 lashes was delayed, according to the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

In a letter to the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Rosenthal and her fellow signatories highlight the hypocrisy of Saudi officials and call for Badawi’s immediate release. They also requested to receive the lashing instead of Badawi if his punishment is not suspended.

The letter, posted on the American Islamic Forum for Democracy’s website, noted that Saudi officials attended the recent Paris march in support of human rights and civil liberties, and in memory of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher market massacres. Yet, in Saudi Arabia, Badawi has been dealt an “unjust” punishment that violates those same rights.

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“Raif Badawi stands condemned under rules that flagrantly violate these human rights and civil liberties and is being subjected to an unspeakably cruel punishment of 1000 lashes,” said the letter, which is dated Jan. 20. “We call on the government of the Kingdom to put a halt to this grave injustice.”

“We are persons of different faiths, yet we are united in a sense of obligation to condemn and resist injustice and to suffer with its victims, if need be,” the letter continued. “We therefore make the following request. If your government will not remit the punishment of Raif Badawi, we respectfully ask that you permit each of us to take 100 of the lashes that would be given to him. We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured.”

Others who volunteered to take lashes in place of Badawi include Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; and Robert P George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and the vice chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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