December 24th, 2017

I first began following, and writing about, the story of Raif Badawi in 2015. Badawi is but one of the hundreds of thousands imprisoned around the world whose crime is the desire to enjoy what our founders codified in our constitution as the most basic rights of all humanity.

The editorial board of The Washington Post in Saudi Arabia’s crown prince of hypocrisy writes:

If he is truly interested in demonstrating enlightened and modern leadership, he should unlock the prison doors behind which he and his predecessors have unjustly jailed people of creativity, especially writers critical of the regime and intolerant religious hard-liners. Recently, he oversaw a crackdown that swept up influential clerics, activists, journalists and writers on vague charges of endangering national security. Allowing these voices to thrive and exist in the open would be a real contribution to the kind of society he says he wants. In particular, he should arrange an immediate pardon for blogger Raif Badawi, serving a 10-year jail sentence in the kingdom for the crime of free expression. Mr.?Badawi offended hard-liners when he wrote that he longed for a more liberal Saudi society, saying, “Liberalism simply means, live and let live.”

Opening Mr.?Badawi’s cell door would do more to change Saudi Arabia than purchasing a fancy yacht and a villa in France.

Raif Badawi is important to his wife and children, to his friends, because they love him. He is important to the rest of us because the barrier separating his fate from ours does not exist. We could all become Raif Badawi in a heartbeat.

I am reminded in this moment the words of Emma Lazarus:

Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

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