Meet Waleed Alhusseini.
I ran a blog in Arabic called Nour Alakl. I was also active on Facebook, running a satirical page under the pseudonym of Allah. In October 2010 I was arrested in the street near an internet cafe. I had believed that I had a right to the freedom of speech and to the freedom of belief.
But in jail I was told that my online statements about religion and Islam were illegal. I was told that society didn’t accept such criticisms. I was beaten by prison guards who demanded to know who had made me write against Islam. In their minds, I could only say these things as the result of some plot, some conspiracy. That I might simply want to express my independent thoughts was alien to them.
I spent the worst 10 months of my life in a Palestinian jail, facing constant pressure to say I was sorry. I was told they had removed my blog and that I must apologise for publishing it. Even once I free I was told I should never again use the internet, nor meet the media. For months after my release I was harassed by the security services, who further interrogated me and detained me without cause. I received letters from people saying they wanted to kill me.
It’s a familiar story, but no less horrifying for that.
He’s not changing his mind though. He’s still an ex-Muslim, an atheist, a believer in human rights.
Eventually, I left the West Bank for Jordan. I obtained a visa from the French embassy. I am now in Paris, having applied for asylum. I am still awaiting an answer after six months. It has become harder and harder. From here I do have chance to blog in Arabic and in English as “Proud Atheist”. But I am now effectively in exile. I am living alone in a foreign city, cut off from friends and family. All over words.
I still do not feel safe. If I cannot stay, if I am not protected, then maybe the Palestinian authorities will arrest me again. That is my fear. I want to be active, but safety is my priority. I want the international community to care for those like me who are persecuted simply for speaking their minds, to stand against the laws in any country which limits basic freedoms of thought and expression. For we are human and freedom only means living our lives without hurting others.
When I had read that far I stopped reading and went to Facebook to see if I could find him. I could, and I did a friend request, and he accepted within seconds. This dude needs allies and friends and solidarity! Make friends with him. Maybe we can help him get asylum. I’ve already emailed people at CFI. We blew it with Alex Aan; let’s try to help Waleed Al-Husseini.