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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Thoughts on Raif Badawi & the Nobel Peace Prize

The name of the winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, October 9. That is 11:00 a.m. in Oslo, Norway, which is … well, really very early in the morning in Goshen, New York, time. (5:00 a.m. EST, in case you want to know.) I hope to be tuning in at that time, and I hope to hear one name in particular: Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old writer and activist from Saudi Arabia who sits in a Saudi prison as a result of his writing. He was convicted of “insulting” his nation’s religion in his writings.

If his name is spoken on Friday morning in Oslo, that does not mean the fight has been won for Raif Badawi, his wife and family, or his many supporters around the world, as he still is in prison and most likely will not be allowed to leave his prison cell or his country to collect the medallion. He also faces 19 more sessions with a whip, as his prison sentence of 10 years includes 1000 lashes with a cane.
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