30-year-old Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was punished last year 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, and he now faces 10 Years in jail along with 1,000 lashes.
The Center For Inquiry just got its hands on English-language text of the Saudi Arabian judicial document detailing what Badawi did… and it’s disturbing. Really disturbing. Because when you go through everything they’re charging him with, he didn’t do anything that warrants his punishment.
Only under Islam are his non-crimes considered punishable by violence.
“This opinion is an example of theocracy at its worst, and reads like something out of the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s president and CEO, and author of the new book The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What to Do. “The Saudi court declares Western liberalism to be incompatible with Islam, but it is Saudi Arabia’s medieval system of justice that is incompatible with civilization in 2014.”
Michael De Dora, CFI’s UN representative, as well as the newly-elected president of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief, has been working on Badawi’s case.
“We’ve been acutely aware for some time that Saudi Arabia harshly punishes religious and political dissent,” he said. “But this document lays bare just how arbitrary and appalling its system truly is. Raif is not only being punished for founding a website, but for a host of non-offenses, such as not properly honoring his father, for believing that all persons should have the right to free speech regardless of their religion, and for expressing a desire to be away from Saudi Arabia, for which he can hardly be blamed.”
To those who say faith is a virtue, go ahead and defend this. I don’t know how you can. All Badawi did was express his thoughts, which didn’t fall in line with a certain interpretation of Islam and was critical of the government. And based on the reaction he got, Badawi was right. It’s just appalling what’s happening to him.
CFI says it will continue to work to secure Badawi’s freedom.