Raif’s dream

Ensaf Haidar tells us that Raif is all emotional about the Independent’s campaign for him.

Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has led to an international outcry, is mentally “very strong” and taking great heart from the campaign to free him, his wife has told The Independent.

In an email exchange, Ensaf Haidar said she remains hopeful that her husband will be released soon, despite being sentenced to 10 years in prison and 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog. He is still recovering from his first round of flogging.

She talked to him five days ago; he said he’s still recovering but basically ok.

She added that she had started to tell him about the international attention his case was attracting – but was surprised at his emotional reaction when he heard that The Independent was campaigning for his release. “I want to thank you for supporting my husband,” she wrote. “For many years, one of Raif’s dreams was to write an article for the The Independent.

“When I told him that The Independent wrote on its front page ‘Free Raif Badawi’, he was crying and he told me about his dream. So many, many thanks.”

Thanks Indy. There are lots of us on your team, Raif.

His cause has been taken up around the world by governments and organisations including Amnesty International. It was reported on Friday that the Saudi authorities had agreed to halt the flogging and reduce Mr Badawi’s sentence but this has yet to be confirmed.

The death of King Abdullah in the early hours of Friday morning has provoked fresh scrutiny of his kingdom’s human rights record and relationship with the West. The UK Government’s decision to lower flags on public buildings in his honour was criticised as excessive and inappropriate by some MPs.

Yep. Bad timing for all the ass-kissing, what with Raif and that prolonged beheading of the foreign woman and the release of the cleric who tortured his 5-year-old daughter to death because he was suspicious of her “virginity.” Really sucky timing.


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