01/13/2015 10:28 EST | Updated 03/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Raif Badawi flogging: Canada criticizes Saudi blogger's sentence

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs is calling the flogging of a Saudi Arabian blogger "a violation of human dignity."

Raif Badawi, whose wife and three children live in Sherbrooke, Que., was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi Arabian riyals (about $315,000 Cdn) for offences including creating an online forum for public debate and insulting Islam.

Amnesty International has called on Ottawa to do more in the case.

François Lasalle, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that while Badawi is not a Canadian citizen, “we are following his case closely in the context of human rights and have raised his case in dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

“The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy,” Lasalle said in an email.

“Canada has an ongoing, respectful dialogue with Saudi Arabia on a number of issues, including human rights.”

Cancel flogging sentence, U.S. says

Badawi received his first 50 lashings in a public square after morning prayers last Friday.

The flogging is being carried out over a period of 20 weeks, Amnesty International said.

The United States has asked Saudi Arabia to cancel the sentence of 1,000 lashes.

Badawi's wife and three children settled as refugees in Sherbrooke after his arrest.  

Ensaf Haider said she feared for the safety of their children and herself in Saudi Arabia. She fled via Egypt, then went to Lebanon, and finally made it to Canada in October 2013.

Quebec Solidaire’s Amir Khadir, Parti Québécois MNA Carole Poirier and a representative from Amnesty International are holding a news conference Tuesday morning.

A demonstration for Badawi will be held later Tuesday in Montreal.