The family of Mansor Almaribe, who is facing a year in jail and 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia. Picture are Mohammad, 16, Jamal, 24, Wafaa, Isaam, 21, and Wally, 2. Picture: Fiona Hamilton Source: Herald Sun
THE family of an Australian man sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in jail in Saudi Arabia fears he will not survive the punishment.
Mansor Almaribe, from the Victorian town of Shepparton, was yesterday found guilty of blasphemy by a Saudi Arabian court.
The 45-year-old father of five was arrested in the city of Medina on November 14 while making the hajj pilgrimage and accused of insulting companions of the prophet Mohammed.
It’s reported he was reading and praying in a group when accosted by religious police and arrested.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Neil Hawkins, had been in touch with authorities to plead for leniency.
“The Australian ambassador has been in touch with Saudi authorities after a 45-year-old Australian man was sentenced by a court in Saudi Arabia to one year in jail and 500 lashes,” a DFAT spokeswoman said
The ambassador would “urgently pursue avenues for leniency with relevant authorities”.
A consular official attended the sentencing, at which Mr Almaribe was initially given a two-year jail term, subsequently reduced.
One of the man’s sons, Mohammed, told the ABC his father had serious health problems.
“Five hundred slashes on his back and he has back problems. I wouldn’t think he’d survive 50,” he said.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict form of Sharia or Islamic law and the dominant form of Islam in the country is Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative strand of Sunni Islam.
Mr Almaribe is a constituent of Liberal MP Sharman Stone, who has called on Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene, “even perhaps to remove the sentence all together if that can be achieved”, she said.
Additional reporting: AAP