January 2015 has begun with the theme of freedom of speech. First the office of Charlie Hebdo was attacked killing 12 cartoonists and now a young Saudi is being flogged for blogging.
Yes you read that right. Raif Badawi, 31 years of age was sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes, 50 every Friday for the next several months until the 1,000 lashes are completed. His crime: blogging and using the forum to criticize the Saudi government and Islam. Here are some of his statements:
“As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.”
Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone … Secularism … is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world. –http://www.m.ahewar.org/s.asp?aid=230393&r=0&cid=0&u=&i=3381&q=
“I’m not in support of the Israeli occupation of any Arab country, but at the same time I do not want to replace Israel by a religious state … whose main concern would be spreading the culture of death and ignorance among its people when we need modernisation and hope. States based on religious ideology … have nothing except the fear of God and an inability to face up to life. Look at what had happened after the European peoples succeeded in removing the clergy from public life and restricting them to their churches. They built up human beings and (promoted) enlightenment, creativity and rebellion. States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear.”
“Actually, this venerable preacher has drawn my attention to a truth that had been hidden from me and my dear readers – namely, the existence of the so-called “Sharia astronomer”. What a wonderful appellation! In my humble experience and in the course of my not inconsiderable research into the universe, its origins and the stars, I have never once come across this term. I advise NASA to abandon its telescopes and, instead, turn to our Sharia astronomers, whose keen vision and insight surpass the agency’s obsolete telescopes. Indeed, I advise all other scholars the world over, of whatever discipline, to abandon their studies, laboratories, research centres, places of experimentation, universities, institutes etc. and head at once to the study groups of our magnificent preachers to learn from them all about modern medicine, engineering, chemistry, microbiology, geology, nuclear physics, the science of the atom, marine sciences, the science of explosives, pharmacology, anthropology etc. – alongside astronomy, of course. God bless them! They have shown themselves to be the final authority with the decisive word in everything, which all mankind must accept, submit to and obey without hesitation or discussion.” –http://www.sauress.com/albilad/1010439
It is just absurd that this young guy is sentenced to get an @$$ beating just for voicing his opinion and using the gift of language and expression. While I do not agree with some things he states such as exaggerated praise of secularism; to sentence him to get lashings is just cruel and inhumane. What is also troubling is that in the march in France where different heads of states participated, among them were Saudi officials! How can they dare march in support of free speech when they do not permit it in their own land?
This young man did not draw vulgar cartoons or write anything vulgar. He merely gave his opinion on things around him. Anyone who would get offended at this is just insecure and really moronic, in my opinion. I am also saddened that the west has pretty much remained silent on this abuse. Perhaps this is because Saudi Arabia is too intertwined with their economies that they do not want to risk ruining any business deals.
Badawi is currently hospitalized and probably would not be able to handle anymore lashings. Nevertheless, the Saudi state insists that he has to face his punishment.
Here are some petitions asking this abuse to stop: