Saudi Arabia removes flogging as punishment, permits Christians to enter Medina and Mecca

RIYADH – In an effort improve the image of Saudi Arabia, decried international for harsh punishments and human rights abuses, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud abolished several harsh punishments, including flogging, replacing it with imprisonment or fines. Several reforms concerning Christians residing in the country were also announced.

The decision to ban flogging as a punishment comes after the country’s highest profile flogging case in years. Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for “insulting” Islam.

Several sources also reported that Saudi Arabia will now allow Christians to enter Medina and Mecca after non-Muslims were prohibited from entering these cities.