Not too far into the future

Raymond Johansen posted a translated transcript of an interview Ensaf Haidar did on NRK Debatt.

Dear Ensaf Haidar, here is your interview again and the following is a translation I hope do you justice. My arabic is limited so please do not feel offended. We tried our best. You are a strong woman and we wish you and your family the best of luck. You are right. Millions of people around the world stand right beside you and your husband Raif Badawi
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Ensaf is asked if she knows how her husband is doing in prison at the moment

Ensaf: Raif’s situation is not good at this moment in time – healthwise or psychologically. His situation is not good at all. But that is normal considering his situation, based on all the uncertainty. To sum it up, his situation is not good at all. [Read more…]

Do the right thing

Ensaf Haidar asks Obama and Kerry to do what 60 members of Congress have done, and demand the immediate release of Raif Badawi.

When I am allowed to speak with Raif, I brief him about all that is being done on his behalf. Because of a global outcry by citizens and governments of the world, Raif has not been flogged for 11 consecutive weeks. But I know that as soon as the media spotlight fades and pressure on the repressive Saudi monarchy eases, Saudi Arabia may seek to do what it pleases with my husband. It is critical that the pressure not abate, not even for an instant.

More than a million people around the world have demanded that the Saudi Arabian authorities release my husband, including more than 60 members of Congress who have sent a letter to the Saudi king calling for his release. But despite this, neither the White House nor Secretary of State John Kerry has followed suit. I beg members of the administration to follow their congressional colleagues’ lead and demand that Raif be released immediately. The United States presents itself as a champion of human rights throughout the world. It cannot allow its important strategic relationship with the kingdom to overshadow its moral standing. Raif must be returned to my arms, not dragged to his death.

Do it, Barack Obama. Do it, John Kerry.

C’est normal

Saudi Arabia has tried to order Quebec to back off in its criticism of Saudi’s appalling human rights record. Quebec has said Nope.

The CBC has seen the letter:

Quebec’s premier is not backing down in his opposition to the imprisonment and torture of blogger Raif Badawi, despite the Saudi ambassador’s written caution to Quebec politicians to mind their own business.

“We have made our opinion known. It’s normal that we did so,” Philippe Couillard told reporters as he made his way to a cabinet meeting in Quebec City Wednesday. [Read more…]

Sometimes a notpology is a good outcome

A friend translated a piece in Svenska Dagbladet for me and gave me permission to share it with y’all. The translation is verbatim rather than idiomatic.

-The emissary has not presented a Swedish apology, but has presented that there was no intention to insult Saudi Arabia or Islam, the source says to (news agency) TT.

-It has been deplored from the Swedish side if what was said has been perceived as an insult.

According to Al Arabiya, the Swedish King is also to have underscored “the force of the relationship” between Sweden and Saudi Arabia to his Saudi colleague King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Under which forms this message was presented is not known.

On Friday, the government’s emissary Björn von Sydow was received by the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.During the conversation Björn von Sydow presented Sweden’s wish to develop the relations between the two countries, according to UD (Foreign Office).

“It is very positive that the government’s emissary has been received”, says Foreign Minister Margot Wallström according to a press release.

It sounds as if they’re both putting up a polite show – Sweden is allowing Saudi to save face, and Saudi is allowing Sweden to leave it at that. Wallström hasn’t actually backed down.

Good.

Saudi Arabia is “a beacon of light”

Oh, that’s how you want to play it, Saudi Arabia? It might backfire. I certainly hope it does.

Adam Taylor at the Washington Post blog.

You know how Margot Wallström was going to give a talk at the Arab League, a talk that included some praise for the idea of women’s rights, and how Saudi Arabia blocked her from giving that talk and recalled its ambassador and generally threw a huge tantrum.

The feud has sparked an intense domestic debate, with Sweden’s king even stepping in. Part of this is because of the considerable economic pressure Saudi Arabia is able to put on Sweden (Sweden exported $1.3 billion to Saudi Arabia last year). But perhaps even more powerful has been the rhetorical pressure — Saudi Arabia has succeeded in making the argument not about human rights, but about Islam. [Read more…]

Your complete opposition to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia

Here’s another thing we can sign – a call to political action to Free Raif and Waleed.

So far 12 MPs, 9 MSPs, and 4 members of the House of Lords have signed. Scores of prominent human rights activists, writers, lawyers and journalists have also signed as well as hundreds of others (see below). Please continue to add your name to this statement. Further action will be necessary.

Raif’s wife Ensaf Haidar has just written to us about this letter.
“I am very grateful for your action in support of my husband’s freedom– please help me get my husband back. His children need him” [Read more…]

Bumped up again

There’s a report in Stern, in German, that Raif Badawi’s case has been sent by the Jeddah Criminal Court to the High Court. Elham Manea took it seriously enough to share with Ensaf Haidar, and Ensaf shared it with everyone.

That could be either good or bad; it’s unknown which.

But don’t worry – the OIC just told us that

Islam, which Saudi Arabia – a founding member of the OIC – is governed by, is centered on the values of justice, compassion, equality, tolerance and the notion of human vicegerency.

So obviously Saudi Arabia isn’t going to behead Raif for expressing an opinion about religion that the Saudi rulers don’t share. That wouldn’t be just or compassionate or egalitarian or tolerant.

One assumes Saudi authorities will not arrange a visit

Michael De Dora spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, on Saudi Arabia and the Istanbul Process.

The rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression remain nearly non-existent in Saudi Arabia. On January 9, Raif Badawi, the creator of an online forum devoted to discussion on religion and politics, received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. He now reportedly faces retrial for apostasy, for which the penalty is death. On January 12, his lawyer, human rights advocate Waleed abu al-Khair, had his own prison sentence extended to 15 years. Meanwhile, women’s rights activist Samar Badawi — wife to Waleed, sister to Raif — has been banned from traveling, and restricted from visiting jailed family members. [Read more…]

What upsets Saudi Arabia and the OIC

Let’s look at that OIC statement on Margot Wallström’s remarks about Saudi Arabia.

First, you’ll want to refresh your memory of her talk. (The article is in Swedish but the talk is in English, just scroll down.) Here are the horrific three paragraphs that have Saudi Arabia and the whole OIC so distraught and furious:

Human rights are a priority in Swedish foreign policy. Freedom of association, assembly, religion and expression are not only fundamental rights and important tools in the creation of vibrant societies. They are indispensable in the fight against extremism and radicalisation. So is a vibrant civil society. [Read more…]