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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A Summons for Samar Badawi: Updated 2/15

Earlier today, Saudi Arabian human rights activist Samar Badawi was questioned by authorities with that nation’s Bureau of Investigation and was allowed to leave after the interview.

On her Twitter page, she reported that the Bureau wanted to ask her about her human rights activities:

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A Summons for Samar Badawi

Saudi Arabia’s Bureau of Investigation yesterday contacted Samar Badawi (above), the wife of Waleed Abulkhair and sister of Raif Badawi, and asked her to report to the Bureau at 10:00 a.m. February 15. She reports that no reason for the summons has been given.

On January 12, 2016, she was arrested and released on bail one day later. She was charged with operating her husband Waleed’s Twitter account.

Samar Badawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, the human rights writer who was convicted of apostasy and other charges and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes with a cane. Waleed is Raif Badawi’s lawyer as well as his brother-in-law, and he is in prison for his human rights advocacy as well.

Because no reason for the summons has been offered, Samar of course can not prepare for the questioning. This is a common form of judicial harassment in nations that use a judiciary as a tool to intimidate.

I will post an update when information becomes available tomorrow. This is Samar Badawi’s Tweet about the summons:
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An Award for Ashraf Fayadh

Last week, PEN International, in affiliation with Oxfam Novib, named Ashraf Fayadh and Malini Subramaniam co-winners of the annual Oxfam Novib/PEN International Free Expression Award. The two join fifty previous winners, including the late Hrant Dink of Turkey.

Ashraf Fayadh remains in prison in Saudi Arabia and was not able to attend the ceremony. He is a poet, an artist, who has faced an array of blasphemy-related charges in Saudi Arabia, from “insulting the divine self” to being an infidel.
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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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Five Birthdays in a Saudi Prison

“I spoke to Ali a few days ago and he said to me, ‘Don’t worry, mom. My birthday next year will be far more beautiful.'”—Nasrah al-Ahmed, Ali al-Nimr’s mother, in a letter published today by Amnesty International.

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Ali Mohammed al-Nimr turned 22 on Wednesday, December 21. It was his fifth birthday spent in prison. It was his third birthday on death row in Saudi Arabia.

There are two things about Ali al-Nimr that we know today (January 24, 2017), and they are the same two sad, maddening things that we know about Ali every day: He remains in prison in Saudi Arabia and he is awaiting his fate. He still phones his father and mother once a week, which his father reports to the world via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He is continuing his college studies in prison.

Reprieve, the international human rights organization, created a page for people to sign a birthday card for Ali. This is the link: Wish Ali al-Nimr a Happy Birthday. In less than five days, the number of signatures on it has climbed to more than 16,100.
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