More than 30 days have passed since Raif Badawi was last in the news on 1 September. This is precisely what those drawn into the light pray for, that the news cycle allows their particularly evil to slip from the public consciousness, and this is precisely why I keep hammering away at the same message. This morning, 6 October, this story popped up:
In a world of more than 7.4 billion people, why do I think Raif Badawi is important? I have a personal connection in that he is a blogger, but there is more than that, Free Speech is important to me. I can’t save all the starfish on the beach, but I can help save this one.
Raif Badawi News Aggregate…
6 ways you can help Raif Badawi and other activists in Saudi Arabia
Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, now faces being beheaded for renouncing the religion, his family have said.
What is the difference between an execution for your beliefs by ISIS and an execution for your beliefs by the House of Saud? Trudy Rubin agrees with me, none at all.
Twelve days—from Monday, 13 April to Friday, 24 April—have passed between the publication of the story below and the story above. Once again, the plight of Raif Badawi is perilously close to slipping off the radar of major news organizations, eclipsed by more important stories. I get that. Reporting the same story over and over and over when there is no change is boring. I recall, however, one American journalist, famous as the most trusted in our field for many years, who was willing to put that kind of tenacious focus on a story he felt could not be allowed to slip out of the public’s consciousness. I’m no Walter Cronkite, but in my own small way, I intend to keep his picture here every day until either Badawi is free and returned to his family, or I’m no longer here to do what I can do.
Any kingdom that locks up a writer for 10 years and adds the barbaric punishment of 1,000 lashes delivered 50 strokes a week for 20 weeks for the crime of calling bullshit on their particular superstitions and ignorance ought not to be considered a valued friend and ally of the United States.
The wife of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for criticising leading clerics, says King Abdullah has referred his case to the supreme court amid an international clamour over his flogging.
Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with the couple’s three children, told the BBC the decision had raised hopes that the authorities wanted to end her husband’s punishment. But there has been no official statement from the Saudi government.
The authorities had already postponed Badawi’s flogging on medical grounds after a doctor said wounds from a previous lashing had not healed. Campaigners said the move exposed the “outrageous inhumanity” of his punishment.
The 31-year-old was due to receive 50 further lashes after Friday prayers, the first 50 having been given outside al-Jafali mosque in the port city of Jeddah last week. He was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison, a fine and 1,000 lashes after criticising Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on his blog.
According to Amnesty International, which has adopted Badawi as a prisoner of conscience, he was removed from his cell on Friday morning and taken to the prison clinic for a health check. The doctor concluded that the wounds from last week’s flogging had not yet healed properly and Badawi would be unable to withstand more. He recommended that the flogging be postponed until next week.
Mark Tran writing in Saudi blogger Raif Badawi’s case referred to supreme court, says his wife for The Guardian.
For the eleventh day since 18 January when I first stuck this running post on Raif Badawi to the top of Have Coffee Will Write, there were no news updates to report on his case. This is very disturbing because it suggests that the world’s news cycle has moved on. I hope that this is not the case, but, even if that is true, I will not take down this post and allow the reports of Badawi to slip ever downward into my archives. I know that my effort is a small one and that others, like Badwai’s family and Amnesty International are fighting hard, but as long as there is a star fish on the beach, we need to keep flinging.
Updates (none since 19 March):