Slavery has no place full stop

Amnesty International shares a letter from Samar Badawi to her husband Waleed Abu al-Khair. Samar Badawi is Raif Badawi’s sister.

He taught me that a person is born free and that it is up to him or her to live in freedom or die trying to achieve it. Slavery has no place in his life except when it comes to serving God, the one and only. Now, he lives in freedom even though he is behind bars with his colleagues Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad al-Qahtani and many other activists imprisoned purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

That’s a very odd exception, I have to say. Slavery is bad except when it’s slavery to god? I couldn’t disagree more. Slavery to god is the worst, because there is no avenue of appeal.

But, that apart…

Know then, dear husband, that it is tyranny and oppression that have put you behind bars.

In Saudi Arabia those who chose to rule in the name of Islam and Shari’a law have treated such jurisprudence as mere ink on paper. Those who claim to use religion to protect me are the very people who took away my safety and security, for within the kingdom those meant to be serving justice have decided that oppression should be a cause for celebration.

So a word to them…

To all those rulers and judges who have unfairly imprisoned the free, and enslaved the people, beware of the judgement you will receive from the heavens above. Woe to you who have terrorized the aggrieved out of pride.

To my fellow Saudi Arabians I say that my husband has been imprisoned so that you could live free. He stood up to the tyrants to claim your rights; he faced up to his oppressors telling them he would not tolerate their repression. Remember that history does not forget, it will exalt those who have fought for freedom and cast aside the memory of those who succumbed to a life of humiliation and servitude.

I like that part much better.


  1. aziraphale says

    The idea of being God’s slave or servant is quite common in Christianity as well. I can see the point. It’s wrong for one human being to enslave another because they are both human beings, deserving of the same rights. If the Christian God (i.e. a being immeasurably superior to us in all respects) existed, it would be rational to submit our will to his just as it is rational for a young child to obey its parents.

  2. says

    But what if the parents abandoned the child at birth? God isn’t around for us, so why should we be slaves to god? Especially since, given the fact that god is not around for us, all we’re really enslaved to is other people claiming to speak for god.

  3. aziraphale says

    You’re right, of course. But Christians and Muslims do think that God is around for them and that they do know what he wants. We think they’re wrong, but given what they believe I don’t regard talk of being slaves to God as “odd”. Humans are known to say things like “I’m a slave to my passions”, after all.

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