Lashings, jail for Saudi website founder

600 lashings and seven years for discussing role of religion.
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An international rights group has condemned the sentencing of a Saudi Arabian website founder to be whipped 600 times and jailed for seven years for violating Islamic values, saying it undermined the kingdom's stated support for religious debate.

A court in Jeddah handed down the sentence on Raif Badawi, who started the 'Free Social Liberals' website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

"This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia's claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue," said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at US-based Human Rights Watch.

Reuters reports that its requests for commetn from the Saudi Information Ministry went unanswered.

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