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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One Hundred Billion Versions of Silence

Will these names be spoken by American officials this weekend in Saudi Arabia: Raif Badawi, Ali Mohamed al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, Abdullah al-Zaher, Ashraf Fayadh?

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The president of the United States will have one hundred billion reasons after this weekend to ignore the facts about the nation he chose as his first foreign destination: Saudi Arabia. He and his already embattled administration chose Saudi Arabia as the location of his first summit abroad—rather than Canada or Mexico, which U.S. presidents traditionally visit first—for a photo op: the president with King Salman and a game-show-style giant check between them.

The United States and Saudi Arabia will announce this weekend that Saudi Arabia will purchase at least $100 billion worth of military equipment, software, and ongoing expertise from American military contractors. Some military business experts estimate that after a decade the deals will be worth three hundred billion dollars.

“The customer is always right,” goes the old retail cliché, and there are two parts to a customer’s continual rightness: the customer has a right to complain about the product purchased or the service in the store no matter what, and the service has a duty to remain silent about the customer’s behavior, even when it is offensive.
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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’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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The Importance of Raif Badawi

Over the last twenty-four months I have published a few dozen articles about the imprisoned Saudi Arabian writer and thinker Raif Badawi, who was caned for his thoughts; his wife, Ensaf Haidar; and Saudi Arabia. He was arrested on June 17, 2012; 1657 days ago. As 2016 concludes, one wonders: What will 2017 bring Raif Badawi?

Raif Badawi is a symbol; for much of the world, his is the face of the Arab Spring. In his essays, he compares the Arab Spring to the French Revolution, and his comparison is not extreme. His ongoing imprisonment—and the sight of him being whipped on January 9, 2015—is the image of what certain governments want to do to the Arab Spring.

This post lists all the articles that I have written and published about Raif Badawi. This website is the only one on the planet to have had insider’s reports from verified sources on conditions in Raif Badawi’s prison.
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Raif Badawi’s Punishment Continues

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.
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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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One Year Ago: A Public Torture

Raymond Johansen allowed himself to be tortured one year ago today, August 16, 2015, in solidarity with Saudi writer Raif Badawi.

Johansen was hit 50 times by a friend, Tony Clenaghan, with a thin cane, a switch, in Trafalgar Square, where corporal punishments once upon a time were held in public and frequently, but not since the 1830s. Johansen had difficulty walking afterward and even expressed confusion as to where he was upon speaking with a reporter. (Video below.)

When a caning is administered it sometimes does not look as severe as one thinks a beating would look; even one of the words we employ minimizes the severity: “lashes.” In writing about the Saudi Arabian writer Raif Badawi, who was sentenced by Saudi Arabia in 2014 to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison, I have run into the shallow poverty of available analogies. All language is analogy, metaphor, and I have wanted the words to be sufficient to convey the pain of judicial corporal punishment, but they do not. They can not. Raymond Johansen’s action last year pumped life into the analogies, however.
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