June 16th, 2017

If you want to understand why they hate us, you need look no further than the case of blogger Raif Badawi. There are some stories that I choose to not let go off. Badawi’s is one such story.

Phoebe Braithwaite, reporting in Five years on, with no word on imprisoned dissident Raif Badawi, his family waits for The Independent, writes:

Today, 16th June, marks the five year anniversary of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s imprisonment. Arrested in 2012 for “insulting Islam through electronic channels,” in 2014, after appealing a seven year sentence, he was resentenced with a stiffer punishment: ten years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine of over £266,000 – making this the midway point in his incarceration.

Badawi is subject to two further penalties to be enforced upon his release: a ten-year travel ban, and a ten-year ban on engaging in electronic, visual and written media. This means he will spend another ten years apart from his family – his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and three children, who were granted political asylum in Canada in 2013.

“We are trying to live a sort of ordinary life as ordinary people. The children go to school, as they should. And I am like any other woman – a mum, doing things like ordering the house. But the peculiar thing about our life is that it’s all about waiting. We are waiting. And it’s been a long time, with these five years passing by slowly for us,” Haidar says. “Every day they say, ‘oh he has to come back—come back Raif.’”

When we back brutal reactionary monarchies like the House of Saud and their 18th century radical Islamic Wahhabi religious sect (remember, 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 11 September 2001 attack were Saudis) we have to expect that those in the Middle East who wish to live in the 21st century are going to do their best to get our attention by any and all means necessary.

When I was a student at Ohio University in the ’80s, I had the occasion to meet, talk and socialize with a number of Saudi students in classes taught by Dr.Gifford Doxsee. At the time Saudi Arabia had a somewhat benign policy of shipping students out of the country so that they might work off their youthful radicalism. The students I met loved the United States and wanted to stay here after graduation to enjoy our freedoms. They recognized the oppressive nature of their own government and didn’t want to go back to live under a monarchy.

They were observant Muslims who prayed five times a day—although some violated dietary laws and prohibitions concerning alcohol and caffeine—but they wanted a 20th century, not an 18th century practice of their faith.

No, those who attack us don’t hate us for our freedoms, they hate us because we support those who deny them the freedoms we enjoy.

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