Raif Badawi … one year later – #FreeRaif

Raif BadawiJust over 1 year ago in May 2014 Raif Badawi was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia’s strict technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures by creating and managing an online forum, oh and they also jailed Mr Badawi’s lawyer as well, Waleed Abulkhair.

Mr Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (over a quarter of a million US dollars), and prevented from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034.

As highlighted by Amnesty International …

Prisoner of conscience

Raif simply championed free speech. This is not a crime; Saudi authorities must release him immediately on these grounds.

We are asking Saudi Arabia to quash Raif’s conviction and overturn his unjust prison sentence, fine, media and travel ban – and stop flogging him immediately. Flogging is a barbaric medieval ‘punishment’ that constitutes torture – there is never justification for its use.

Around the world, Amnesty sections are taking action on behalf of Raif. The number of signatures displayed on this page reflects signatures gathered by Amnesty globally, not just in the UK.

Meanwhile over in Saudi Arabia, the new king embarked upon a campaign of state sponsored bribery that is designed to quell any public dissent with the status quo. This consists of the dispersement of roughly £21 billion in funds and has manifested as grants to sports clubs, and a 2 month bonus for public sector workers. All this has been designed to stem the tide of any public unrest.

As reported in the Independent, the bribery reaches beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia and out into the arms (pun intended) of external governments  such as the UK …

With Saudi Arabia an ally in the fight against Isis, a valued purchaser of arms and vendor of oil, neither Britain nor America has applied much pressure in Mr Badawi’s case. Amnesty International claims the British ambassador has not followed up on it, and in January Chris Grayling’s Ministry of Justice was revealed to be offering commercial services to the Saudi justice system – the very same that keeps Mr Badawi in prison, besides beheading dozens of inmates per year. This is beyond the pale. If the West cannot find its voice in support of Mr Badawi, it will have prized an alliance with a regime in part responsible for the spread of jihadism over the plight of peaceful, liberal activists. In both moral and political terms, that calculation is profoundly incorrect. 

Make no mistake, Saudi Arabia is no friend to anybody and only seeks to preserve their grip upon power, it is a regime that is the antithesis of basic human rights and liberty. They might indeed be opposed to ISIS politically, but wahhabism, the prevailing strand of Islamic thinking, is equally unpalatable, and has funded on a massive scale the promotion of extremist Islamism across the globe. To be precise more than $100 Billion has been spent by them on this, but some suggest it may be twice that sum. For contrast, the Soviets spent just $7 billion promoting communism between the years 1921 and 1991.

Is this really true?

Yes it really is …

a Wikileaks cable clearly quotes then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” She continues: “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups.” And it’s not just the Saudis: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are also implicated in the memo. Other cables released by Wikileaks outline how Saudi front companies are also used to fund terrorism abroad.

If you would like to read that US cable yourself, then you can do so, here it is – http://www.theguardian.com/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/242073

If indeed we get into bed with the wolf, we should not express surprise when the wolf turns upon us one day. Raif Badawi took a brave stand for basic liberty and freedom, and now faces the consequences – this wolf has teeth that bite. The continuing and ongoing funding and promotion of extremist Islam by the house of Saud will indeed have long term consequences for us all.

ACTION: If you have not done so already, then you should go sign the Amnesty petition for Raif Badawi.

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