Tomorrow, after Friday prayers on January 9, Saudi Arabia plans to publicly flog Prisoner of Conscience Raif Badawi. His crime? Freely expressing his ideas online.
Raif started the Saudi Arabian Liberals, a blog where readers could openly discuss religion, politics and other topics in Saudi Arabia. In retaliation for this peaceful act, Raif is serving 10 years and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes.
According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Raif will be subjected to approximately 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be meted out over a period of 20 weeks.
Raif Badawi was initially charged with “apostasy,” a crime that carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. He has been detained since June 17, 2012. His lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is also serving a 15-year sentence for his work in defense of human rights. Raif’s wife and children escaped to Canada. We need to do all we can to reunite him with his family.
Twenty weeks of agony. Ten years of imprisonment. This is the painful price of criticizing religious authorities in Saudi Arabia.
Sign this online petition to demand Saudi Arabia immediately release Raif Badawi and halt this abhorrent flogging.
For those of you in the US, please take one step further by calling the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C. at (202) 342-3800. Press 2 for English, then 0 for the operator.
Sample call script:
Hi, my name is _____________, I’m calling from [City, State] about Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. I ask that embassy officials act now to ensure that he is not publicly flogged in Jeddah. I believe that Raif is a Prisoner of Conscience, and should be immediately and unconditionally released. I am also disturbed that the Saudi Authorities are using flogging as punishment, as it is a violation of international law.