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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Australian sentenced to 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy

An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in a Saudi Arabian jail after being convicted of blasphemy, according to officials.
The 45-year-old man, identified by family members as Mansor Almaribe of southern Victoria state, was detained in the holy city of Medina last month while making the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj. Family members told Australian media that Saudi officials accused him of insulting the companions of the prophet Muhammad, a violation of Saudi Arabia's blasphemy laws.
Australia's ambassador in Saudi Arabia has contacted Saudi authorities to appeal for leniency and consular officials are providing support for the man and his family in Australia.
"The Australian government is universally opposed to corporal punishment," the foreign affairs department said.
Almaribe was convicted of blasphemy on Tuesday and initially sentenced to two years in jail and 500 lashes. The court later reduced his jail sentence.
His son Jamal told The Age newspaper that his father was reading and praying when he was arrested. Mohammed, another of Almaribe's sons,said he feared for his father's well-being. "Five hundred slashes on his back, and he has back problems. I wouldn't think he'd survive 50," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

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