Last year, 30-year-old Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was punished for starting a progressive website that called for, among other things, religious tolerance and women’s rights. That was insulting to Islam, said his critics. He was sentenced at the time to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.
His sentence was overturned… but that respite was brief. In May, Badawi was given an even harsher punishment:
… the Criminal Court has sentenced Badawi to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a one million riyal fine (USD $266,631).
His lawyers appealed the ruling, but we learned in September that the decision was upheld. Great justice system they have in Saudi Arabia…
On Wednesday, Badawi was awarded the “netizen” prize by Reporters Without Borders. While he couldn’t accept the award in person, he sent a message that was read at the ceremony:
One part really stood out to me (7:02 mark):
This prize came at a time when we needed it. It tells Raif’s children that their father did not break any law when he used the free space of the Internet to express his liberal opinions and voice his concerns about the role of the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia. It tells them that their father is among the few who dared to demand reform in Saudi Arabia through peaceful means. He’s paying a high price for his courage.
Badawi’s a brave man and a hero to many of us. I hope he remains safe and outspoken, despite the horrific methods his government is using to try and silence him.
(Portions of this article were posted earlier. Thanks to Richard for the link)