Raif Badawi - TWEET storm!
We can only marvel at Raif Badawi's courage. He pushed for political reform and risked his life. And for no greater reason than to say and write what you think. To stand for freedom of speech. As a result, he lost his freedom - 10 years imprisonment which included 1,000 lashes; his money (a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals); and his family. His final blog entries date from 2012. He has sat in prison for 6 years condemned to silence since then.
His wife, Ensaf Haider, said that on the first day Raif was sent to prison that she had two choices: to be weak and give up or to stay strong and fight for Raif's freedom.
The treatment of Raif Badawi is a standing violation of domestic Saudi law. His sentence of lashings was itself illegal - as physical torture is prohibited under the Arab Charter on Human Rights, ratified by Saudi Arabia in 2009, and the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture, which the nation ratified in 1997.
The criminalization of Raif was ultimately the criminalization of the protected rights he sought to exercise and of freedom itself.
Raif's writings are also important for us in the West. He has a clear belief system. He is an advocate for 'liberalism". Live and let live is the principle he lives by. He was engrossed with his attempts to re-examine liberalism in Saudi Arabia, which was contributing to the prevalence of "enlightenment" in his community. He wanted to break the walls of ignorance to shatter the sacredness of religions clerics. He wanted to advocate for change and respect for freedom of speech, to call for women and minorities rights and the rights of the indigent in Saudi Arabia. As a result, he was accused of apostasy and sentenced to death.
Many civilizations and human rights organizations believe that freedom of speech is a basic human right and they call upon the Arab regimes to reform their policies when it comes to freedom of speech. As a human being, you have the right to express yourself.
Raif believes that what is needed most in the Arab and Islamic societies is to realize the importance of the individual and the value of individualism. He believes that we need to appreciate the person, value their freedoms and respect their intelligence. States that are built on a religious foundation limit their own people in a circle of faith and fear. It's a natural human right to say what you want and do what you want, as long as this freedom is ruled by laws; your freedom ends on the outskirts of the freedom of others.
A war may be a battle of many things, but it is also a battle of endurance. Ensaf and her children, Terad, Miriyam and Najwa have been without their husband and father for 6 long years and they need our words of encouragement. We need to help her keep the home fires burning. And we need to stand with Ensaf and her children to bring Raif home and for them to know that Raif Badawi will always be the best kind of hero.
"Freedom of speech is the air that any thinker breathes: it's the fuel that ignites the fire of an intellectual's thoughts."