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Rumours of Grace: A plea for Raif Badawi

Credit: ENSAF HAIDAR

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashings in Saudi Arabia for comments about Islam and creating a website. But he has been spared from his weekly lashings, save for one.


Michael Veenema | Interrobang | Opinion | March 2nd, 2015



Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
A couple of evenings ago, I received a phone call from my MP. At first, I wondered why I would receive a personal call from Scott Brison. But soon I remembered that it was probably because I had emailed him about Raif Badawi, which proved to be the case.

Badawi is one of the victims of the repressive Islamic country of Saudi Arabia. Any online search quickly shows that the government of that country is liberal – liberal in its application of Shariah Law. It is also inclusive. Many people are illegible and have been permitted to endure forced seclusion, caning, flogging, other torture and beheadings.

These include Muslims who do not adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam that the government supports. It includes four daughters of the current king who – according to their mother and the king’s ex-wife now living in exile in London, England – are forcibly kept out of sight. It includes activists and advocates of freedom. It includes foreigners who are frequently the victims of Saudi justice and public beheadings. Saudi Arabia is one of the four last countries to carry out public executions. The beheadings – at least 78 in 2013 – appear to be, for many people, a form of public entertainment staged in the city of Riyadh.

One of the latest and most well known victims of Saudi law is Badawi. His name is likely familiar to most of us. His wife and children live in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Last year he began a 10-year sentence for supposedly insulting Islam and creating the Free Saudi Liberals website, according to Amnesty International. He has also been sentenced to 1,000 lashes. Barbaric. He was to have been given 50 lashes each Friday for 20 weeks. Perhaps because of the international outcry, he has suffered only one session so far. Only one.

I was glad to receive the phone call the other day and to discover that at least one MP is speaking up for Badawi and that he promised me more information.

In the meantime, there is no lack of information on Badawi available to everyone. Besides Amnesty International and Wikipedia, bloggers and organizations have made his situation public for the world to know.

In case you have not looked at anything about Badawi, you may want to start with an online video narrated by Doudi, his son living with his mother and siblings in Sherbrooke. He is 10 years old. He begins the video saying, “Papa, believe me, I never thought I’d live without you.”

Check out the Amnesty resources on his father. Write to the king of Saudi Arabia – and your MP too.
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