Monday, January 19, 2015

Raif Badawi, flogged because he blogged

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What can one say? Are there any words that can describe the sheer horror of a young man being flogged fifty times because he expressed his opinion on the internet like so many of us do? 

Fifty times! And that was only the first round. Many more are supposed to follow. As many as one thousand lashes need. One thousand lashes! That’s the full sentence rendered by a Saudi court against Raif Badawi, a thirty-one years old blogger and father of three.

If in each round he receives fifty lashes, Raif will have to endure twenty more rounds. Twenty more rounds! 

How long does it take to flog someone fifty times? Few minutes, half an hour, an hour? An eternity of pain for the tortured blogger… 

For what exactly? What did this young man do to deserve such a terrible and humiliating punishment? What was his crime? Did he call for the overthrow of the monarchy? Did he produce homegrown porn? Was he part of some terrorist organization? Or did he simply express his longing of a more open society?

Reports are saying that the Saudi Supreme Court is now reviewing his sentence. Let’s hope it does. Actually, let’s not rest until it does. 

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. 

© Claude El Khal, 2015