Dear President Obama,
Saudi Arabia will not listen to me. I am nobody. They may listen to you, because you are their very good friend. Would you please tell your friend to stop harassing and torturing the Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi? He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes. He may now face death penalty.
I tell you what happened.
Mr Badawi’s wife said that judges in Saudi Arabia’s criminal court want Raif Badawi to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence. She said the “dangerous information” had come from “official sources” inside the conservative kingdom, where Mr Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes – administered at a rate of 50 per week – for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog.
In 2013, a judge threw out the charge of apostasy against the 31-year-old blogger after he assured the court that he was a Muslim. The evidence against him had included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.
The news that the charge may now be re-examined will come as a bitter blow to Mr Badawi’s family and supporters, who had hoped that the international pressure over his case would prompt Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence.
I am not like Badawi’s Saudi relatives. I don’t want Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence. I want Saudi Arabia to free him and honor him as a free thinker. If you believe in human rights, freedom of expression and democracy at all, you should not only ask the people of your country to practice them, you should tell the whole world to practice them, starting with the countries you are friends with. Why would you even want to maintain a friendship with them if they never care enough to listen to sound advice from you? Now it is time to decide; please decide whether you want to remain friends with an undemocratic country which is a violator of human rights and freedom of expression.