Jailed Saudi blooger Badawi calls survival after 50 lashes miracle (dpa German Press Agency)

Berlin (dpa) – Saudi blogger Raif Badawi said in his first public remarks since he was jailed nearly three years ago that he “miraculously survived 50 lashes” as he was encircled by people shouting, “God is great,” a German magazine reported Saturday.
“All this brutal suffering has happened to me because I expressed my opinion,” Badawi said in a letter published by Der Spiegel.
Advocates of freedom of expression and governments around the world have called for freedom for Badawi, whose website called for a secular, liberal Saudi Arabia.
He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for insulting Islam and received the first 50 lashes in January. The flogging was supposed to continue weekly, but it has been suspended on health grounds. He remains in jail despite the international outcry.
The letter that appears in Der Spiegel is the preface to a book being released Wednesday in Germany called 1,000 Lashes. In it, Badawi expressed surprise at his life in prison.
He said he spends his days in a 20-square-metre cell with 30 criminals – murderers, thieves, drug dealers and child molesters. He earlier feared criminals and would latch all his doors and windows at home “and now I live in the middle of them,” Badawi wrote.
He said he was astounded to discover a “tender, grand human sensitivity” in some of his cellmates and had also been moved when he found scribbling in one of the prison’s toilets that said, “Secularism is the answer!”
He started his website in 2008 and used it to criticize sharia law and religious officials. He has been jailed since 2012.