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Raif Badawi again winner of the Sakharov Prize

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The book takes up the 14 articles which earned him prison and flogging

(BRUSSELS2) Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is the new winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the Parliament of the European Union. Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, proclaimed this at the end of the last plenary session in Strasbourg last Thursday (October 29). A reward for this 31-year-old blogger, imprisoned for criticizing the Saudi regime and Islam. Raif Badawi is also winner of the Reporter Without Borders Prize and the Reuters Prize for Press Freedom, and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. The Sakharov Prize award ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on December 16. It is his wife who will represent the blogger.

Committed and pursued journalist from the start

During his younger years, Raif Badawi was host of the website “Liberal Saudi Network”, a blog with progressive ideas that quickly became disturbing. In 2009, Raif's father took him to a Saudi court to force him to stop his activities. In Saudi Arabia, the law stipulates the total obedience of a son to his father. The vicious circle is then launched: ban on leaving the country, withdrawal of license, ban on working… In 2009, his wife and three children left the country and took refuge in Quebec. They haven't seen him since. Raif Badawi continues his work and founds the website Free Saudi Liberals.

In prison since 2012

On June 17, 2012, Raif was arrested for cybercrime, disobedience to his father, criticism of Islam and apostasy. Everything is speeding up. He passes by a first instance, then a second. It is the Riyadh Court of Appeal which is ultimately the most severe. In May 2014, she found him guilty of “insulting Islam” and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a $260 fine. He escaped conviction for apostasy, which carries a death penalty. A year later, in June 000, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia upheld the sentence of 2015 years and 10 lashes, 1 per week for twenty weeks.

Concerns for his future: new trial and resumption of flogging

Today, Badawi's wife and Amnesty International are warning of the possibility of a third trial for apostasy. The death penalty could then be expected for the blogger. The more imminent threat is the resumption of public flogging. On January 9, 2015, Badawi received 50 lashes. The public flogging session took place in front of the Djuffali mosque, in the center of Jeddah, the city where he is incarcerated. Corporal punishment was then suspended in January 2015, due to international protests and his poor health.

His criticism of Islam: the articles that landed him in prison

A book contains the 14 articles which landed him in prison and flogging. “1 lashes because I dared to speak freely” is published by Editions Kero, with the support of Amnesty International. On the internet, Badawi expresses his desire for less influence of religion on the life of the kingdom. He notably wrote that Muslims, Christians, Jews and atheists are all equal. He denounces the oppression inflicted by the big petromonarchy on non-Muslims, women and free thinkers.

« How can we, with such individuals, build a human civilization, and have normal relations with six billion people, of whom more than four and a half billion are not of the Muslim faith? »

Badawi directly rejects any form of political Islamism. He affirms that he would remain hostile to Hamas, even if the latter liberated Palestine:

"I am not for the occupation of an Arab country by Israel, but, on the other hand, I do not want to replace Israel by an Islamic nation which would settle on its ruins, and whose only concern would be to promote a culture of death and ignorance among his followers, at a time when we desperately need those who call for a culture of life and development, capable of cultivating hope in our souls. »


The Sakharov Prize: a prize for courage

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, described Badawi as a blogger and writer who " courageously expressed his ideas and his doubts about certain rules of his country considered excessively restrictive, and sought to defend the freedom of thought of all Saudis ". The European Parliament also asked, during the last plenary session, the King of Saudi Arabia to pardon Raif Badawi, he added, and “to let him out of prison so that he can reunite with his family and so that he can come and receive this prize during our December session, here in Strasbourg”.

(Leonor Hubaut)

(*) The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, sometimes considered the European equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was created in 1988 to honor collective or individual personalities who strive to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Leonor Hubaut

© B2 - Bruxelles2 is a French online media that focuses on political Europe (powers, defence, foreign policy, internal security). It follows and analyzes developments in European policy, unvarnished and without concessions. Approved by the CPPAP. Member of SPIIL. Please quote "B2" or "Bruxelles2" in case of recovery Leonor Hubaut is a journalist. Graduated in international relations from the Free University of Brussels (specialization in globalization). She covers for B2 the work of the European Parliament, CSDP missions and African issues. Sahel specialist.