A heart-rending piece by Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, who is still in a Saudi prison for the “crime” of setting up an atheist website.
I still pursue that mirage… two years have passed and I am still faced with a scorching emptiness and a series of agonizing questions.
When will he be back, and in what condition? What will I put on, and how will I react? Should I hug him, kiss him, or should I cry?
I wake up to the torture inflicted upon me by our children’s questions, like: “Mom, will we be leaving tomorrow without Dad, to fly from Beirut to Canada? Will I be afraid of flying? Dad used to help me overcome my fear.”
That’s our ally, Saudi Arabia.
First thing one recent morning, a telephone call from one of Raif’s friends woke me up. He had attended Raif’s trial back in Riyadh on 7 May 2014, and without further ado he said – in a coarse, sad voice – that they had increased Raif’s original sentence of seven years and 600 lashes. I hung up the phone and was overcome with anxiety and stress before bursting into tears! I pulled myself together and recalled that Raif had promised me that he will come back – I do not know when, but he promised me he will!
Every opportunity I get, I always reiterate the same message to the Saudi government. They know very well that Raif is no criminal; instead, he is a prisoner of conscience. The authorities have to abide by the international treaties that provide for the freedom of expression. I wonder whether or not they will ever heed my words.