“It is truly tragic that a whole year has passed since Raif Badawi received this cruel and unjust sentence. He is clearly being punished for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, has issued a plea to Saudi authorities for his release: “A year ago you sentenced my husband to 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes. Four months ago you flogged him in public as if he was a nasty criminal. Expressing one's opinion is not a crime, I urge King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to release my husband immediately and end his suffering."
She added: "I am extremely grateful for the international support for my husband’s case which I believe has helped save him from further lashings, but the truth is, this achievement alone is not enough. Raif is still languishing in prison, each day not knowing what tomorrow will bring. It’s time for him to be free and to be reunited with his family once more.”
Quoted by the Guardian, Raif Badawi wrote shortly before his arrest: "For me, liberalism simply means, live and let live. This is a splendid slogan. However, the nature of liberalism – particularly the Saudi version – needs to be clarified. It is even more important to sketch the features and parameters of liberalism, to which the other faction, controlling and claiming exclusive monopoly of the truth is so hostile that they are driven to discredit it without discussion or fully understanding what the word actually means. They have succeeded in planting hostility to liberalism in the minds of the public and turning people against it, lest the carpet be pulled out from under their feet. But their hold over people’s minds and society shall vanish like dust carried off in the wind."
In a previous blog post, I wrote: "It was only yesterday that the whole world cried out Je suis Charlie. Now it needs to declare Je suis Raif. After mourning the dead, let’s make sure the living are well and out of harm’s way. And most importantly, free to express their opinion without the fear of a thousand lashes scarring their backs and their humanity."
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