Raif Badawi


Raif Badawi founded an online forum for political and social debate, called “Saudi Arabian Liberals”. He was arrested in June 2012 and was charged with violating Saudi Arabia’s information technology law and insulting Islamic religious figures by creating and managing an online forum.

The charges against Raif Badawi were related to a number of articles he had written, including one in which he was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the religious police. The charges against him also mention his failure to remove articles by other people on his website, including one that suggested Al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”.

On the basis of his writings and posts on his website, the prosecution had called for him to be tried for “apostasy”, which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

In May 2014, Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (about US$266,600) for setting up “the Saudis Arabian Liberal”, an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. He was also banned from traveling for 10 years and from participating in the media once he has completed his prison sentence.

Raif Badawi received his first 50 lashes in public on January 9, 2015, in front of al-Jafali Mosque in Jeddah. The second set of 50 were expected to be administered the following Friday, January 16, but a doctor examined him and concluded that his wounds had not sufficiently healed and he could not withstand another round of lashes. He was taken to King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah on January 21 and was thoroughly examined by a medical committee of eight doctors. After hours of examinations, the committee concluded that he had high blood pressure and recommended to the authorities that he not be flogged. The Supreme Court had referred his case back to the Criminal Court on February 3. However, no further details of this transfer are available yet, and it is unclear whether it means his flogging has been halted or postponed.

His wife Ensaf Haidar and three children have since left Saudi Arabia and are living in Canada. Ensaf Haidar is working closely with AI Canada’s French-speaking section to advocate for her husband’s release.

Send solidarity letters or cards to his family:

Ensaf Haidar
c/o Amnistie Internationale Canada Francophone
50 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, Bureau 500
Montréal, Québec
H2X 3V4

Write letters to the authorities in Saudi Arabia:

  • Calling on the authorities to release Raif Badawi immediately and unconditionally as he is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and assembly;
  • Calling on the authorities to quash his conviction and prison sentence and drop all charges against him;
  • Calling on the authorities to refrain from carrying out the flogging punishment against Raif Badawi;
  • Calling on the authorities to stop charging activists with charges such as “apostasy” punishable by death sentence;
  • Urging the authorities, in the meantime, to ensure that Raif Badawi is protected from torture and other ill-treatment including the flogging punishment, and given immediate and regular access to his family and lawyers of his choice and any medical attention he may require;
  • Calling on the authorities to take steps to ease the crackdown on activists and their use to social media.

Mail to:

His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Salutation: Your Majesty

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior
P.O. Box 2933
Airport Road
Riyadh 11134
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Salutation: Your Royal Highness

His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Postal Code: 55937
Riyadh 11544
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Salutation: Your Royal Highness