Sunday, January 25, 2015

A blogger in jail - Raif Badawi

I spend  a lot of time writing about and for journalists and bloggers who are persecuted for simply writing. Hundreds are in jail. Many have been killed.

As a blogger I get occasional hate mail from folks who do not like gay people, do night like vegans or do not like the idea of animals not being anything other than a product, but I have never felt that I could not write or that I would be imprisoned or killed for writing.

Today I ask you to take a moment to spread the word about Raif Badawi. A Saudi blogger, father of three, husband. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashings for his blog writings. 

At this time the next series of lashings have been postponed due to his physical health being so poor from the previous lashings.

I have tried to get as much information about his sentencing and "crime". Rather than write paragraphs and paragraphs I am adding two paragraphs from a Washington Post editorial that for me sums it up nicely:

"Mr. Badawi acted in the spirit of freedom of the modern age. A blogger, he called for open debate about interpretations of Islam. His blog posts were sometimes satirical and sometimes irreverent. They also infuriated the kingdom’s hidebound religious clerics. On Friday in Jiddah, he was given a punishment from a bygone century: 50 lashes, the first of 20 floggings, once a week, to a total of 1,000 lashes for his outspokenness. The word barbaric hardly captures the depth of this depravity.

As we described it last year, Mr. Badawi was arrested in 2008 and questioned about his Web site but released. Then he was charged with setting up a Web site that insults Islam, and he left the country. He returned when prosecutors apparently decided to drop the charges, but in 2009 he was barred from leaving. In 2011 prosecutors alleged that his Web site “infringes on religious values,” and he was arrested in 2012, when a well-known cleric issued a religious ruling that Mr. Badawi was an apostate who must be tried. His Web site was shut down, and his family left Saudi Arabia. A judge threw out the charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty, after Mr. Badawi assured the court that he is a Muslim. In a subsequent trial he was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a fine equivalent to $266,000."

Ever since reading of this and learning more and more about Raif, I think of him all of the time. 

Would you please help me spread the word? We have the power to shine a light on Raif and to support him.

Amnesty International is working hard to get Raif released. Here is a link to their site: help Raif
On their site you can send a note to the Saudi's and then promote that on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you. And thanks for reading.