It was five years ago, on June 17, 2012, Raif Badawi was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for having asked on his blog for more tolerance toward non-Muslims and a greater openness of mind on the part of Saudi Arabia.
The campaign to press for his release is still going strong, including a plea today on social media featuring a video of Badawi’s wife and three children, who live in Sherbrooke: “10 years. 1000 lashes for writing a blog. Today marks 5 years since Raif Badawi’s arrest. His kids have 1 message for @KingSalman #FreeRaif”
That follows another plea by Amnesty International to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Thursday, the Parti Québécois marked the anniversary with Verchères MNA Stéphane Bergeron calling on the Couillard government to press Ottawa to relaunch the appeal to Riyadh for the man’s freedom.
Bergeron noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise in 2015 to make every effort to have Badawi released.
Taschereau MNA Agnès Maltais, who has taken part over the years in vigils demanding Badawi’s freedom, suggested that continued mobilization can make a difference. The proof, she said, is that thanks to international pressure, the Saudi government abandoned flogging Badawi.
Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison, accused of insulting Islam. He received 50 lashes in January 2015 during a public display.