What you can be flogged for in Saudi Arabia

Karl Andree and Kirsten Piroth

The family of a British pensioner caught with homemade wine in Saudi Arabia claim he could be flogged.

Karl Andree, 74, has already spent more than a year in prison since being arrested by Saudi religious police.

His family say they were led to believe he'd avoid the punishment because of his age but that's now in doubt. They believe it would kill him.

Mr Andree is asthmatic, has gout (a type of arthritis causing joint pain) and has survived cancer three times.

Karl Andree

Alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, where judges can hand down public executions or beatings with whips or sticks to those found guilty of offences.

As well as severely breaking skin and causing heavy bruising, the punishment can lead to nerve damage, infections, psychological trauma and even death in extreme cases.

Blogging and making alcohol is not the only reason you can be flogged in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International says flogging is normally carried out with a cane, on the back and in a public square but people are often allowed to wear a layer of clothing.

They say there's no upper limit to the number of lashes that those found guilty of alcohol offences can receive.

'Insulting Islam through electronic channels'

Raif Badawi with his family

In 2014, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was imprisoned and sentenced to 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam through electronic channels".

He was due to receive the lashes over 20 weeks and was given the first set of 50 on 9 January.

Footage that emerged of that flogging showed Mr Badawi standing in a white shirt as he was beaten across the back with a stick.

After widespread international condemnation, the second round has been repeatedly postponed on health grounds.

Spending time with the opposite sex

Woman in a niqab

In 2006, two men and a 75-year-old woman were sentenced to flogging for "moral crimes". They'd met members of the opposite sex who weren't "close relatives".

During their trial the men claimed they had been delivering bread to Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi.

One also argued he was related to Khamisa, who had breast-fed him as a child.

The court rejected their arguments, sentencing Khamisa and one of the men to 40 lashes and four months in prison - the other to 60 lashes and six months in prison.


A 19-year-old woman known as the "al-Qatif Girl" was with a male friend when she was attacked and gang-raped by seven men.

The pair later received a six-month prison sentence and 200 lashes each, with authorities claiming the woman confessed to having an affair.

Her lawyer had his own legal licence temporarily removed after criticising the teenager's treatment at the hands of judges.

Driving... if you're a woman

Woman gets a cab in Saudi Arabia
Image caption Woman gets a cab home in Saudi Arabia from a Riyadh shopping mall

Authorities are worried letting women drive would encourage them to leave their houses "more often than they need to".

They're only allowed to drive in the desert or inside private compounds, with families often having to hire private drivers to get them around.

Several women have been sentenced to lashes after they staged a driving protest to highlight discrimination against women.

Being gay

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and punished with prison sentences, fines, whippings, chemical castrations and even the death penalty.

In July 2014, a court there jailed a 24-year-old man for three years and sentenced him to 450 lashes for arranging a date with a man on Twitter.

Men have also been flogged for attending "gay weddings", even though gay marriage isn't legally recognised in the country.

Pestering girls

In 2000, it was reported that teenage boys in Saudi Arabia who "pestered" schoolgirls faced public floggings and possible prison terms.

It followed complaints from girls and parents about boys loitering outside schools.

Bringing liqueur chocolates into the country


A Filipino man was sentenced to jail and 75 lashings for bringing two chocolate bars containing alcohol into the country.

He claimed he'd bought the chocolates on a flight stopover and hadn't realised they were alcoholic.

Alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia.

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