THE UK LGBTI Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has warmly welcomed the news that Raif Badawi has won the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize for human rights.

Badawi is the Saudi Arabian blogger, writer, activist, and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals, an online platform for political and religious debate. He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, and apostasy.

Named after the Soviet Humanist scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the award was created in 1988 to honour people and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The announcement was greeted with a standing ovation at the European parliament in Strasbourg, France, and Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal bloc, said: “The European parliament has sent today a strong political and humanitarian message to the Saudi Arabian authorities. We urge His Majesty King Salman to release Raif Badawi from prison and, in any case, to end the barbaric punishment of flogging.”

PTT Secretary George Broadhead said: “This award must be very welcome to everyone concerned about humans rights. It is also a slap in the face for the Saudi Arabian Islamic theocracy. Together with Iran, Saudi Arabia has the worst record of human rights abuses worldwide. One of the most barbaric punishments, meted out under the country’s Sharia Law, is flogging. As well as severely breaking skin and causing heavy bruising, this punishment can lead to nerve damage, infections, psychological trauma and even death in extreme cases. Other “crimes” punishable by flogging include being in possession of alcohol and, if you’re a women, driving.

“British and other Western governments are rightly outraged by the appalling barbaric actions of ISIS, but are these so different from those of Saudi Arabia which they support? They both engage in public beheadings, floggings, torture, amputations, stoning, crucifixion, executing gays, oppressing women and endorsing child marriage, yet these governments seem blind to this reality, choosing to drop bombs on one and sell them to the other.”