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
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