A very brave Saudi Arabian blogger, Raif Badawi (pictured above), was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for the (from the viewpoint of the Saudi authorities) hideous crime of starting a progressive website. It contained ideas that truly frightened and terrified them, for example religious tolerance and women’s rights, and so they came down hard on him.
His initial sentence at the time was seven years and 700 lashes but that was overturned briefly and then replaced with the even harsher sentence last May. That was then appealed, but in September that the decision was upheld.
In recognition that this is a man taking a very brave stand for basic human rights inside an utterly abhorrent and immoral theocratic dictatorship, the latest news is that he has now been awarded the “netizen” prize by Reporters Without Borders.
He sent a message that was read out at the award ceremony by Dr. Elham Manea who received the Prize on behalf of Raif Badawi, from the Mayor of Strasbourg …
We as a nation are “friends” with Saudi Arabia … why?
They are a truly abhorrent theocratic dictatorship that breaches almost every single very basic human right going, here is a summary of their specific track record…
- Saudi women face discrimination in almost every aspect of their lives – They don’t get to drive, in fact they don’t get to do anything without permission from a male guardian
- Saudi Arabian law does not recognize religious freedom, and so the public practice of all non-Muslim religions is actively prohibited
- Saudi judges have harshly punished with death confessed `witches` for what at worst appears to be fraud, but may well be harmless acts.
- They have exactly zero LBGT rights
- If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from HIV or AIDS, most hospitals will refuse to treat you.
- There is no freedom of the press, the press and other forms of communicative media, including television and radio broadcasting and Internet reception, are actively censored
- Political parties are banned
- They even recently declared atheists to be terrorists.
- Justice is also a complete farce – you have amputations of hands and feet for robbery, and flogging for lesser crimes such as “sexual deviance” and drunkenness. In the 2000s, it was reported that some women were sentenced to lashes for adultery; the women were actually victims of rape, but because they could not prove who the perpetrators were, they were deemed guilty of committing adultery. Then in stark contrast, a cleric who recently raped and murdered his 5 year old daughter walks free after paying a modest fine.
- Even thinking the wrong thoughts merits a death sentence. If you leave Islam because you no longer believe, then the sentence is death.
If that is still not enough then consider that by using oil revenues to export their extreme variation of Islam around the world we now live in an age when moderate variations of Islam are in decline and being replaced by a far more radical violent intolerant variation.
Make no mistake, these people stand in complete opposition to all the basic universal human rights, note that I use the word “universal” and not “western”, this is because such rights are indeed universal and apply to all.
Are there any who are true heroes that are willing to take a public stand for human rights?
If you also wonder if we have any friends in Saudi Arabia, then the answer is that yes we do and the name of one of them is – Raif Badawi.