Target: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Goal: Release liberal activist Raif Badawi from prison
Liberal activist Raif Badawi has been sentenced to seven years in prison along with six hundred lashes by the Jeddah Court in Saudi Arabia. According to the courts, he violated Saubi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law and was found guilty of insulting Islam through his website and televised comments. Three months were added to his sentence for parental disobedience.
Badawi was convicted unfairly as he was merely practicing his rights to freedom of speech. The activist’s website was meant to encourage discussions of politics and religion in the country, but courts found that his words insulted Islam. Despite freedom of speech rights, the judge saw Badawi’s liberal views as unbelief. Badawi had to assure the courts that he was a Muslim – otherwise, he could have faced the death penalty. After proving that he was indeed Muslim, his apostasy charges were dropped. The judge also wanted the activist to renounce his liberal views – a request Badawi refused.
Before his arrest, police had been harassing Badawi for his website because it debated religious issues. Once the man was arrested for his website but later released. Another incident – also involving a website – led to him fleeing the country. When prosecutors dropped those charges, Badawi thought it safe to return. Subsequently his business assets were frozen and he was forbidden to travel abroad. His wife and children have fled the country, fearing for their lives. Saudi Arabia’s laws can detain and kill those who are not of Muslim faith – and yet the country gives their people freedom of speech.
This man and many other citizens are practicing their rights to freedom of speech. Such a harsh punishment for a peaceful discussion of religion should not exist. Sign this petition and ask the king of Saudi Arabia to pardon the activist.
Dear King Abdullah,
I beg you to pardon the activist Raif Badawi, thus releasing him from prison and the six hundred lashes he was sentenced to receive. Your country has freedom of speech which gives your people the right to discuss their opinions on various topics, including religion. Yet you punish those who are conflicted about their beliefs on Islam or who choose to not be a part of the religion. This man was peacefully demonstrating his right to freedom of speech through a website; he was not endangering anyone. This man has been targeted and harassed by the police, forcing him to flee the country. His wife and children have already fled, for fear of losing their lives or torture.
I implore you to do the right thing and release him.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Susie via Susie’s Big Adventure