Who do we want it for?
When do we want it?
The ongoing protest at Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa has changed from weekly to monthly for the summer. Last Thursday, July 9, a group from CFI Ottawa and Amnesty International stood across the street from the embassy, and repeated our demand for the release of the writer who was sentenced to earned him a sentence of 1000 lashes, 10 years in prison, and a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (the equivalent of $340 000 CDN), as punishment for his apostasy, based on his actions as co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, an internet discussion group encouraging online debate about religious and political issues.
Raif Badawi received the first 50 lashes of the 1000-lash punishment in January. Though scheduled to continue weekly for the next 19 weeks, each subsequent round of lashes has been postponed – sometimes the explanation of “medical grounds” has been provided, and sometimes there has been no reason given. In June, the Saudi Supreme Court upheld Badawi’s sentence, and it was feared that the lashes might resume again after that, but the weekly floggings are still being postponed.
Saudi Arabia styles itself a civilized nation, and has claimed that its approach to human rights, as informed by Islamic sharia law, is superior to the secular version (i.e the one that supports freedom of speech and allows criticism of government and religion). NGOs and governments around the world that have continued to demand Raif Badawi’s release would beg to differ. Sherbrooke, QC (where Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar lives with their 3 young children) has recently made Raif an honorary citizen. Protests continue with the hope that the Saudi government will decide to release Badawi – if not because they are convinced that it’s the right thing to do, at least because it will take the pressure off.
Anyone in the Ottawa area is invited to join us at the Saudi Embassy – the next protest is Thursday, August 6 at 4:00 pm. You can also buy Raif’s book 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think, to be released in mid August.