Three Years in Prison for Blogging

Today is the third anniversary of Raif Badawi’s arrest and the beginning of his imprisonment in a Saudi Arabian jail. One thousand one hundred and nineteen days since he was taken from his wife, seen in the photo above, and their children. Many protests are planned for today at embassies around the world; English PEN delivered a letter to 10 Downing St. today demanding official help in securing his immediate release. It was accepted but not by PM Cameron.

The immigration minister of Québéc, where his wife and children live, granted him a special immigration certificate a few days ago, which is remarkable and kind and, should he be released, needed. Declaring him welcome will not pry him from prison, and Saudi Arabia has already officially complained about Québécois “meddling,” however.

Raif Badawi’s story has earned more and more media interest in the last week. First, the fears expressed in this space (“A Sense of Injustice“) and elsewhere that the flogging that was suspended in January would be resumed came to naught, even though the supreme court reaffirmed his sentence last week. He was not flogged last Friday. Official reasons were not given, yet official and ominous statements of outrage at the global effort on Raif Badawi’s behalf continued to be released.
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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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