What if you were arrested and publicly flogged for wondering why

Haroon Riaz, to quote his blurb at the Nation, is a Rawalpindi-based independent blogger and believes in promoting free speech and secularism. Comrade!

He points out that what’s happening to Raif could so easily have happened to him or you or me. I know. Boy do I know.

He says hardly anyone is talking about Raif in Pakistan.

[W]hat does this tell the world about us? Or about our leaders who took the trouble of protesting against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but would dare not even think about the flogging of the Saudi blogger.

That those are some fucked-up priorities.

I know it is dangerous and sensitive to talk about anyone who has allegedly blasphemed, but let us put this case this way.

Let’s not even waste our time with the question whether Raif Badawi insulted Islam or not, and whether he should be punished for it or not, without giving up the defense of his right to.

But what if the law of the land requires your free expression about your society to be punished like this? Especially when half of the people in Pakistan want the country to turn into Saudi Arabia and the other half wants it to become Iran.

I don’t know what if. I can’t imagine what I would do.

What if you were arrested and publicly flogged for wondering why Ahmadis are persecuted in Pakistan?

What if you were penalized for wondering why Hazara and Shia are being targeted and publicly naming the culprits?

What if you were wondering about the unjust theocratic influences on the law and the constitution, and thereforeon the society?

What if questioning the theocratic parts of your constitution would put you on a trial for treason?

The kind of opinions that could so easily be projected to be insulting to religion and, therefore, the religious figures, you never know.

Raif Badawi’s opinions were not too different to these seemingly innocuous political inquiries.

Exactly. The humane and liberal thoughts are ferociously punished, while the sadistic torture of humane and liberal thoughts is state policy. It’s sick. It’s a sick inversion of how humans ought to act and live.

There is a reason why Raif Badawi matters so much.

It could have so easily been you and me.

Take care of yourself, Haroon.


  1. MG Myers says

    Ophelia – Thanks for constantly reminding readers about Raif’s case and other violations of human rights. These aren’t comfortable topics to read, but they are so very important.

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    The situation in Saudi Arabia isn’t quite as bad as that in Pakistan, in fact. Raif Badawi has been tried and convicted- under unjust and wicked laws, true, but the prosecution had to establish a case against him. In Pakistan heretics, blasphemers and wrong-believers- alleged or real- can be unofficially executed and no court will dare bring the killers to court. I’m afraid it’s more likely that Raif Badawi will be saying what he thinks in ten years’ time than Haroon Riaz.

  3. enkidu says

    Lots of numbers @ 2. I have to respectfully disagree. Though Pakistan is often portrayed as a land of chaos and mob rule, and dog knows I’m not by any means a fan, it is more diverse than usually supposed, does still have the rudiments of an independent judiciary, democratic institutions, critical press and some forms of civil society. Also many opponents of the fanatics, who are increasingly willing to say so.

    In contrast, the Saudi slave state kleptocracy has none of these. It is a totalitarian rule, different from ISIS only by being somewhat more discrete in its atrocities. Oh, and Western support of course.

  4. says

    Slightly OT:
    Several reports I’ve seen say that the new Saudi ruler, Salman, is suffering from dementia. Poor guy! But, it does make you ponder the idea of hereditary leadership. He is 79 and otherwise not in great health. One thing I’ve noticed about Saudi leaders is that they like to show pictures of them that are 20 years old, or so. These rulers are pretty decrepit!! I guess that shows how much god approves of them.

  5. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I hope you’re right about Pakistan, Enkidu. I go by visits there and to S.A. many years ago and reports from acquaintances, so I’m no expert.

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