My Posts about Raif Badawi & Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger of his punishment being resumed. He still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that any news about a prisoner can be one more form of punishment for his family. Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger. The mental torture never ceases.

When his story grows more prominent, as it has since the arrest of his sister, Samar Badawi, on July 30, 2018, that torture only becomes sharper. It becomes exquisitely more difficult to find hope.

For Raif—and for his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, who is also in prison in Saudi Arabia in a gross violation of his own human rights—and for their two brilliant and courageous wives, Ensaf Haidar and Samar Badawi, today is another challenging day. Each one is. Each day, news or none, is spent weighing the choice between daring to dream of freedom or to not expend energy in the risky business of dreaming.

Saudi Arabia arrested and imprisoned Samar Badawi on July 30, possible charges and location unknown as of this writing.

This post lists the articles I wrote over the last three-plus years about Raif Badawi, a young writer whom Saudi Arabia has punished for his essays, and whose story is finally an international matter this week in a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Canada. I will file a more current post tomorrow.

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To Dream a Dream …

Bravery is a skill. I do not know if I have cultivated it in myself. Bravery is, of course, not what one does in the absence of fear but what one can do—what one actually does—when fear is present. Accept fear, move forward, change the world.

[A comment: Today is March 22, 2017. I wrote the first draft of this column more than eighteen months ago. Sadly, the only update to offer today is this one: All the parties described herein are, simply, even more brave than they were several months ago. Ali remains in prison. His father posts updates on Facebook each week and sometimes more frequently. We learned last summer that he earned a university degree while in prison. Dawood al-Marhoon and Abed allahhassan al-Zaher also remain in prison. Raif Badawi remains in prison. He has begun to learn of the global movement that has grown around the fight to free him. Back to the column from October 2015:]
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Raif Badawi’s Ordeal

Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Raif Badawi remains in danger …

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June 17, 2017, marks five years in prison for Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian writer who is in jail for writing.

There is no new news to report regarding Raif’s condition. The absence of news is a heavy, ever-present reminder 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.
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A Wife’s Lonely Fight for Her Husband

A review of Ensaf Haidar’s excellent new book about her life with Raif Badawi

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How does a young mother tell her children that their father—her husband—is in prison for writing what he thinks in a fundamentalist country that oppresses freedom of thought and freedom of expression? How does she tell her children that their father was taken from them because their country punishes thinkers and writers? How does she tell them he was taken from them?

There is no instruction manual for that situation. The moment in which a young mother must live through exactly this moment is only a brief scene in Ensaf Haidar’s newly published memoir of life with and apart from her husband, the writer Raif Badawi, but it is painful to read, because Ensaf (and her co-writer Andrea C. Hoffmann and their skilled translator Shaun Whiteside) bring the reader into the room with her and the children and invite us to feel their terror and confusion.
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How to Be Brave

Bravery is a skill. I do not know if I have cultivated it in myself.

A young man sits today in a prison, awaiting a death sentence to be carried out, possibly this Friday. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 when he was 16 or 17 years of age (both ages have been reported), making him a juvenile at the time of his arrest. He was arrested at a protest. His country is Saudi Arabia, and the protests in 2012 in other autocratic nations in that region had been effective in fostering change. At trial, he was not given access to the “evidence” amassed against him, in no small part because there was no such evidence. He was convicted, no joke, of stealing every gun and every uniform from a local police station, single-handed.
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Speak out for Those Who Can’t

Love takes many different shapes and travels many different roads. Love of family. Love between two who believe each to be the other’s everything. Love of truth and of truth-telling, no matter the price.

There are individuals around the world who are in prison cells right now, or are being secretly executed right now, because they told the truth about the power arrangements in their nation and told the world that they live in a country that believes in punishing and sometimes killing those who have revealed these things. And yet they have gone ahead and written these things anyway at the risk of joining the ranks of the punished, joining the silent brigades of the killed. This is a love for the truth that I sincerely believe will never be tested in my heart in my lifetime, so I have no clue if I will ever have an opportunity to display the matchless courage that Raif Badawi, his powerhouse wife Ensaf Haidar, his brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, or Waleed’s wife (and Raif’s sister) Samar Badawi display every damn day that Raif spends in jail (as of today, 1103 days) and Waleed spends in jail (more than a year now).

Raif and Waleed are in jail; their wives work every day to keep their names in the public square.
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A Prisoner’s Anniversary: ‘Ignite the Light’

At heart, it is a love story. Love of truth. Love of fairness, of justice. The love of a young couple with young children. Love is optimism, you see. Love can build a world that has truth and fairness in it.

Building a family is perhaps the most optimistic act possible; fighting for a better country and world demands vigilance in the name of that optimism.

One year ago today a young writer, activist, husband, and dad was given a court’s sentence: 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes with a cane or a whip, to be delivered in a public square in sets of 50 each Friday until the 1000 have been delivered. So far one set of 50 was meted out, on January 9. He has been in a small prison cell for almost 1100 days now, 1077 today if my count is correct.

A great many activists have been writing, blogging, making phone calls, standing outside embassies each Friday—a great many are standing outside embassies today in honor of the sad anniversary—asking powerful people to speak to other powerful people to right what they feel is a great wrong. It is a love story, but the ending still appears to be far, far distant.
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#RaifBadawi: ‘We want life’

“I didn’t think there could be anything worse than watching a shaky cellphone video of my husband being publicly beaten in front of a mosque thousands of miles away,” Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Ensaf continues that Badawi’s family is currently experiencing something worse than that: It appears that he is once again facing a trial on a charge of apostasy, renouncing one’s religion, a crime that comes with an ultimate punishment—beheading—if a person is found guilty.

No flogging took place today for the Saudi Arabian blogger, activist, father of three:

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