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—Guy Ottewell and Tilly Lavenás, founder members of the Amnesty International groups of Greenville, South Carolina, and Lyme Regis, England.

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Raif Badawi started a website called “Saudi Arabian Liberals.” In 2008 he was arrested on a charge of apostasy (which carried an automatic death sentence). He had stated that he was a Muslim but “everyone has a choice to believe or not believe.” After a day of questioning he was released, but his bank account was frozen and he was forbidden to leave the country. His wife's family filed a court action to divorce the couple forcibly on grounds of his apostasy. In 2012 he was arrested for “ridiculing religious figures” and “going beyond the realm of obedience.” He had suggested that the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists.” In 2013 he was found guilty of creating a website that “violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought,” and sentenced to seven years in prison and six hundred lashes. In 2013 his wife and three children escaped to asylum in Canada. His lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, was sentenced to fifteen years for setting up an organization called Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. In 2014 Raif's sentenced was increased to ten years, a fine of a million riyal ($267,000), and a thousand lashes. He was imprisoned in Jeddah; after release he would be banned from leaving the country for ten years, and permanently banned from using online media. And meanwhile, he would be taken out to a public square evwery second Friday and receive fifty of his thousand lashes.
     The floggings began on 9 January 2015. He was taken out in handcuffs in front of the mosque after Friday prayers and received fifty blows of a wooden cane on his back and legs. He kept silent despite obvious agony. The crowd shouted "Allahu akbar!" (God is greatest).
     The next flogging was announced for only one week (not two) later, but was postponed because a doctor judged that Raif's wounds had not sufficiently healed. With worldwide pressure, including from the UN, US, EU, and Canada, there were more postponements, but on June 6 the Saudi Supreme court upheld the sentence, so that no recourse was left except intervention by King Salman. Raif was to be flogged again on Friday June 12. Yet again, it was postponed at the last moment.
     As far as I (Guy) can tell from my Arabic dictionary, his name is râ'if, meaning “having mercy.

Send a copy of your message to the Saudi ambassador in your country.

His Excellency Adel A. Al-Jubeir
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington DC 20037



HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud
Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
30 Charles Street
London W1J 5DZ



Amnesty International's Urgent Action of January 9 gives 3 more target addresses: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE23/002/2015/en/5d9925fa-a628-4b76-be35-97236cd1bfe5/mde230022015en.html