Saudi: Oz man to get 500 lashes for blasphemy

Mansor Almaribe, was charged with blasphemy last month while participating in the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 2011, 14:29 PM IST

Riyadh: An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in prison in Saudi Arabia for religious offences.

Mansor Almaribe, the father-of-five was charged with blasphemy last month while participating in the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca.

It has been reported he had been reading and praying in a group when accosted by religious police and arrested.

He was detained in the city of Medina on November 14.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has been called on to personally intervene on behalf of Almaribe, the Herald Sun reports.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian ambassador had been in touch with Saudi authorities and was providing consular assistance to Almaribe`s family.

According to a department spokeswoman, Rudd was keeping in close contact with the Australian ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

Australian officials have struggled to get to Almaribe with one official being refused entry at the prison door and also because only followers of Islamic faith may enter Medina, under Saudi law.

According to the report, a consular official attended the sentencing, where Almaribe was initially given a two-year jail term, which was subsequently reduced.

ANI