As President Obama embarks upon a trip to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post editorial board reminds him that blogger Raif Badawi is still being held as a prisoner. The President, they say, should urge the Saudi government to release him immediately.
Mr. Badawi, 32, has been jailed since 2012 after he appealed online for a more liberal and secular society, a call that infuriated the kingdom’s conservative clerics and religious establishment. His sentence was set at 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. After he was flogged 50 times, the remainder have been held in abeyance, but the sentence stands and was upheld by the Saudi supreme court in June, and the whipping could be resumed at any time.
Mr. Obama ought to tell the unvarnished truth to the monarch: Bloggers may be sharp-tongued, but it is barbaric to subject them to flogging and jail.
If our President doesn’t stand for free speech and make the case for Badawi, what hope do we have? This isn’t a political issue. It’s a moral issue. And for a President who talks so much about putting the latter above the former, this is a no-brainer.