Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saudi blogger’s wife says global pressure could force his release

Raif Badawi with his children
The wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi has called on the international community to pressure the Saudi Arabian authorities to release her husband, after his public flogging was postponed this weekend.
Ensaf Haidar was told that the second part of her husband’s punishment, due to take place on Friday after prayers, had been delayed because a doctor had judged that the injuries he had suffered from being lashed the previous week had still not healed and he would not be able to withstand more.
Badawi, 31, was found guilty of offences related to his blog, the Saudi Free Liberals Forum, as well as accusations that he insulted Islam. He was sentenced to 10  years in jail, a heavy fine and 600 lashes – raised on appeal to 1,000 – to be administered at a rate of 50 a week.
Haidar believes that, if leaders such as David Cameron put pressure on the Saudis, Badawi would be allowed to join her in Canada, where she fled with their children after a Saudi cleric put a fatwa on Badawi in 2011, leading to an attempt on his life. He was banned from leaving Saudi by the authorities in 2008 and jailed in 2012, labelled an infidel.
“I have a big hope that Raif will not be in prison for 10 years. I didn’t ever think it would come to me being in Canada and him being in prison, and waiting for him for 10 years.”
Amnesty International is also calling on Cameron to take direct action in support of the principle of free speech. Human rights campaigners, who have been supporting Badawi’s case, have attacked British politicians for “wearing the Saudi muzzle” and want them to press for Badawi’s immediate release.

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