A New Prize for Raif Badawi

Today is the 1418th day the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has spent in prison. Last night, the International Publishers Association awarded him its Prix Voltaire, and his powerhouse wife, Ensaf Haidar, traveled to London to accept the award on his behalf.

Raymond Johansen of the Pirate Party of Norway (#‎PPNO‬) and my sometime collaborator on The Gad About Town website, traveled to London and met with Ensaf this weekend (photo below the fold):

Raymond Johansen and Ensaf Haidar, from his Facebook page.

Raymond Johansen and Ensaf Haidar, from his Facebook page.

After he was arrested in June 2012, after a long trial, Rai Badawi was found guilty of having ideas that his country does not favor, even finds to be a threat. The authorities declared that his self-published essays “propagate liberal thought,” and the search for a punishment that it deemed proper took over a year to calculate. He spent that year in prison.

Badawi’s writings include statements like this: “States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear,” so the Saudi Arabian judicial system decided to live up to that observation and decided that a public flogging was the punishment it deemed proper. One thousand lashes and ten years in jail. On January 9, 2015, the first 50 lashes were delivered.

Today is no more nor less special in this nightmarish story; it is one more check mark on a calendar. Day 1418 in prison passes into night 1419. All for writing. Last night, Ensaf accepted one more well-deserved prize. The international movement on his behalf, sparked by a young wife’s determination to make the world know her imprisoned husband’s name, led Amnesty International to declare months ago that it has received more signatures for petitions demanding his release than any other in its long and remarkable history.

On his Facebook page today, Johansen wrote, “We have been working very hard to get Raif a pardon these last few years and it was an absolute pleasure to meet Ensaf. Her French is better than mine, but we agree on certain activities in the near future focused on one single goal: Getting Raif out of prison.

“On advice from people with even more experience than me when it comes to back-channel diplomacy we have decided to say no more publicly—yet. But … get ready to continue your incredible support.”

* * * *
The following pieces have appeared in The Gad About Town concerning Raif Badawi:

 March 25, 2016: #ReadRaif: Now More than Ever
 January 26, 2016: Raif Badawi’s Hunger Strike
 January 9, 2016: One Year After He Was Flogged, Raif Badawi Remains a Prisoner
 December 16: Badawi’s Absence Is a Presence at Prize Ceremony
 December 11: A Cloud of Uncertainty
 October 29: Winner of the Sakharov Prize
 September 14: Award Raif Badawi the Nobel Peace Prize
August 18: Tortured
June 17: Three Years in Prison for Blogging
June 10: An Urgent Need for Action
June 7: A Sense of Injustice
June 1: Speak out for Those Who Can’t
May 7: Ignite the Light
April 3: We Want Life
March 13: Raif Badawi and Official Cruelty
March 6: Raif Badawi Remains a Prisoner
February 20: 1000 Days
February 6: #FreeRaif, Week 5
January 31: Raif Badawi, Week 3
January 22: An Update about Raif Badawi
January 12: For Raif Badawi

* * * *
A Recording
This winter, I recorded myself reading one essay from Raif Badawi’s book, “1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think.” The mic on this laptop is not strong, and my voice … well, there I am holding a copy of the book. Get yourself a copy of the book. I have intentions to record more of his essays.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

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