English PEN Protests For Raif and Waleed Continue
English PEN holds regular vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London in support of Raif Badawi of Waleed Abulkhair on the last Friday of every month. In order to amplify Raif's voice the Saudi authorities and to celebrate the launch of '1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think' in the UK this month, supporters read extracts from the book during September's vigil.
Raif Badawi, an activist and blogger, was convicted in May 2014 for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and a ten-year prison sentence. In addition, the court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to 1,000 lashes.
On 9 January 2015, after morning prayers, Badawi was flogged 50 times. This punishment was due to continue every Friday until he has received a total of 1,000 lashes. However, subsequent floggings have not gone ahead, initially because Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment. No explanation has been given for the postponement of further floggings.
Meanwhile, his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair is serving 15 years in prison for his peaceful activism.
English PEN staff are in regular contact with Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who remains gravely concerned for their well-being. She is extremely grateful for PEN’s ongoing support and has urged us to keep fighting.