Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Raif Badawi remains in danger …
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The source who informed Raif Badawi’s family in January 2015 that the writer’s sentence of 1000 lashes with a cane for the crime of writing was about to be carried out by Saudi Arabian authorities was correct in that information that one time. Badawi was caned on January 9, 2015. The source has not yet been named in all this time and even the source’s gender has not been revealed.
More than once since that terrible day, this source has been credited with inside information that Badawi’s punishment is about to resume, and each time the punishment has not resumed. This does not mean that this source has become unreliable or that the source from now until forever lacks credibility. What it means, if anything, may not be learned.
Because we do not know the source or the origin of the source’s information, it is almost impossible to ascertain how close to Raif Badawi the source is, was, or will be. However, this source is being credited with a story that appeared late yesterday in the international media that Raif Badawi is about to be flogged again, inside the prison where he is being held, away from public eyes.
This would not be a reversal of fortune for Raif Badawi. The fact is that Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger of his punishment being resumed. Saudi Arabia has never publicly stated any intention to free him, reduce his ten-year sentence, or show him any leniency. He is always in imminent danger.
The story first appeared yesterday in a Tweet from the Raif Badawi Foundation, which was established over a year ago by his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and their supporters. (Full disclosure: several of my articles have appeared on the foundation’s website.) The tweet linked back to the foundation’s website and an article with a heartbreaking headline (“Ordeal Never Stops”):
— Fondation RaifBadawi (@RBFF_FRBL) October 17, 2016
“Ordeal” is the right word. Badawi’s wife, Ensaf, must feel deep down every waking second and quite a few of her sleeping moments that the love of her life remains in terrible danger every minute that they are apart, each additional moment he spends in prison. Stories like this must shake her, especially when the source is one whose information proved to be right even if only once in the past.
It’s indescribable, watching something like that being done to the person you love. I felt the pain they were inflicting on Raif as if it was my own. The men I had seen in the video might as well have put me in a square and flogged me. But worst of all was the feeling of helplessness. I sat on my sofa, wrapped my arms around my legs, and wept.
I don’t know how long I sat there for. The phone rang several times, but I didn’t answer. How was Raif now, I wondered. How severe were the wounds he had suffered from this brutal abuse? Had they broken his bones? The violence of the blows almost mde me suspect as much. Did he get medical treatment for his wounds? If only I could have done something for him!
This is what Ensaf Haidar lives with every second. Every prisoner’s loved ones around the world live with something like this, especially those with a sentence that includes corporal punishment and the corporal punishment is for … writing.
My sources, some of whom have been generous enough to share details about Raif Badawi’s prison that have not been reported by other media outlets, have made it clear that they do not know more than what was reported in the media this week. No one knows how to gauge the credibility of this story, which is why we must accept it at face value.
The publication of this story gave us a gift, however. It served to remind us what Ensaf Haidar and others like her live with every second that they have a loved one who faces an unfair punishment and an incredible and brutal long-term prison sentence along with that rarest of possessions: a feeling human heart.
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Over the last twenty months I have published a few dozen articles about Raif Badawi, his wife, and Saudi Arabia. “Secularism is the solution,” a graffito that Raif Badawi said he saw in a prison lavatory, is the guiding thesis inside each of my articles. This website is the only one to have had insider’s report on conditions in Raif Badawi’s prison. This list corrects errors I created in earlier presentations of this list:
• October 4, 2016: Raif Badawi and the Nobel Peace Prize
• June 16, 2016: A Wife’s Lonely Fight for Her Husband
• May 12, 2016: Secularism Is the Solution
• April 17, 2016: Inside Raif Badawi’s Prison Cell
• April 11, 2016: A New Prize for 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
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Last winter, I recorded myself reading one essay from Raif Badawi’s book, 1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think. It is the entire chapter, “Is Liberalism Against Religion?” Get yourself a copy of the book. I have intentions to record myself reading more of his essays, if that appeals to readers.
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