Raif Badawi Saudi Editor lashes
Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 1000 lashes for promoting public debate on his website Twitter

A Saudi Arabian online activist will be publicly flogged on Friday 9 January after being arrested and accused of "ridiculing Islamic religious figures".

The corporal punishment will be carried out after Friday prayers, Amnesty International said, outside the Al-Juffali mosque in Jeddah. It is the site where executions are carried out, earning it the grisly nickname "Chop Chop Square".

Raif Badawi, who co-founded the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, was arrested in 2012 for promoting public debate on his site, which has been closed since.

Badawi was charged with cyber-crime and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

He was also charged with apostasy, which carries the death penalty in the Saudi Kingdom, but he was cleared of this crime in 2013.

The Jeddah's Criminal Court also ordered him to pay one million Saudi riyals (£157,220).

Badawi's lawyers appealed for a retrial but the charge and the sentence were upheld last September.

Amnesty condemned the court's decision to uphold the punishment and urged the government to immediately release Badawi, who is a"prisoner of conscience".

"Raif Badawi will receive up to 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks," the NGO said.

Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director for Amnesty International, said: "Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment are prohibited under international law, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

"It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression."

Activists are often persecuted in Saudi Arabia, which has recently tightened its crackdown on freedom of speech.

In 2014, the country also promulgated a law that labels non-believers as terrorists and, therefore, enemies of the Kingdom.