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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The Verdict Against Badawi is Upheld–What Comes Next?

Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Raif Badawi remains in danger. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that the slow drip-drip-drip of news about a prisoner’s legal status is one more form of punishment.

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Raif Badawi learned today, March 20, that both the verdict against him and the one million riyal (approx. $266,663) fine leveled against him have been upheld by Saudi Arabia’s judicial system.

The immediate impact of these decisions is not known. There are many questions, not the least of which is: what effect might today’s decision have on the other two other parts of Raif Badawi’s sentence—ten years in prison and 1000 lashes with a whip? The answer is yet to be revealed.

Later this spring, Badawi will pass the five-year mark in prison. (Today, March 20, 2017, is Raif Badawi’s 1760th day in prison.) On January 9, 2015, fifty lashes were administered with a cane, and 950 more remain undelivered to this day. Will the whipping be resumed? Or, optimistically, if the fine can be paid in full, might that be a way for humanity to pry Raif Badawi from the inhumane Saudi Arabian judicial system, in which the act of thinking is considered a crime worthy of corporal punishment?
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Raif Badawi and the Nobel Peace Prize

Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Raif Badawi still has several years left on his long prison sentence. All for writing …

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Freedom of speech is the air that any thinker breathes; it’s the fuel that ignites the fire of an intellectual’s thoughts.
Many human rights organizations believe that freedom of speech is a basic human right, and they call upon the Arab regimes to reform their policies when it comes to freedom of speech. As a human being, you have the right to express yourself. You have the right to journey wherever your mind wanders and to express the thoughts you come up with along the way. You have the right to believe, and to atone, the same way you have the right to love or to hate. You have the right to be a liberal or to be an Islamist.
Raif Badawi, “1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think

The name of the winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, October 7. That is 11:00 a.m. in Oslo, Norway, which is 5:00 a.m. EST.

Raif Badawi is considered a mid-range long-shot for receiving the prize this year, even after receiving 2015’s Sakharov Prize. Perhaps he is last year’s human rights story; he may no longer rank as the most pressing case of a human rights violation in his own nation of Saudi Arabia this year: Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and his two compatriots, teenagers sentenced to die for participating in a protest, still await execution and post-mortem crucifixion and have attracted international attention and fears about their fates. (Ali’s uncle, Sheikh Nimr, was executed on January 2, 2016, along with 46 others. Saudi Arabia has executed by beheading more than 100 individuals since January 1, 2016, a record pace for that nation.)

But Raif Badawi remains in prison. Raif Badawi still awaits 950 more lashes with a cane. Raif Badawi still has several years left on his long prison sentence. All for writing sentences like the one I ran at the top. For declaring in his writings that since he has the right to freedom of speech he will insist on pursuing that right for himself, he was sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison.
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‘Secularism is the Solution’: My articles about Raif Badawi

This is an up-to-date list of the articles and columns I have written concerning Raif Badawi. Each one was first published here, in The Gad About Town website; several were subsequently linked to and quoted in other media outlets, including the Raif Badawi Foundation’s website itself. (I am not an impartial reporter, so it was an honor to see my work there.)

The ongoing diplomatic silence regarding Raif Badawi is perplexing in the face of the global outcry. Last November, Yves Rossier, Switzerland’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, told a Swiss newspaper, La Liberté, that Raif Badawi’s sentence has been suspended.
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Hossein Ronaghi Freed on Bail

Visibly weaker after a 38-day hunger strike, Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi was released on bail yesterday, May 4. According to the web site Journalism Is Not a Crime, the bail “300 million tomans (about $100,000) pending a review of his case.”

Since his return to prison in January, Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi’s health has deteriorated to the point that he was taken to outside clinics on at least two occasions, according to reports on Twitter, but he was not been admitted to a hospital because prosecutors (not doctors) have determined that his condition is not serious.

The blogger’s medical condition is serious: arrested in December 2009 and in and out of prisons since, one kidney has shut down and the other requires immediate attention.

(Below the fold is my post from March 30: “We are His Voice: Hossein Ronaghi.” I will post more as I learn it.)
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I Am His Voice: Hossein Ronaghi

In his second-to-last post on Twitter (below), Hossein Ronaghi wrote, “The response to opinions is not prison.” But he is in prison, Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, and has spent the last six and a half years fighting for his freedom of expression, his freedom, and now even his life itself.
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1000 Days

For the sixth week in a row, Saudi writer, blogger, and activist Raif Badawi was not publicly flogged today for insulting his home country’s state religion. Amnesty International broke the news as soon as the organization could confirm it:

No one is breathing a sigh of relief that this counts as sparing him, or that he is about to be freed. The 31-year-old husband and father has now spent 1000 days in jail with little to no contact with the outside world. According to news reports, there was no reason given by Saudi officials for the delay.
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