[Note by Tom Gross]
Above is a video of the on-stage interview I conducted earlier this week with Ensaf Haidar, the wife of the courageous Saudi blogger and political prisoner Raif Badawi.
In 2014, Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in harsh prison conditions for calling for freedom of speech in his country. Ensaf Haidar now lives in exile with her three young children.
After the first 50 lashes almost killed him, international public pressure seems to have played a role in making the Saudis so far postpone administering the further 950 lashes, due to be carried out 50 lashes at a time, once per week after Friday prayers. Nevertheless there are many in Saudi Arabia, including in the government, who want to increase his punishment.
The interview with his wife took place at the 2016 Geneva Summit for Human Rights. The Summit is sponsored by a coalition of over 20 human rights groups led by the Geneva-based UN Watch.
The Saudi government was last year elected by governments including, disgracefully, the country where I grew up (Britain), to lead a key committee at the UN Human Rights Council, which sits across the street from where the Geneva Summit took place. The Saudi government was elected shortly after it posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners.
Thank you to my friend, the exiled Moroccan human rights activist Kacem El Ghazzali, for translating. (There are some small technical problems at the start of the video.)
Of course, had Raif been Iranian his situation would have been even worse. Iran recently executed a liberal blogger who made very similar demands for freedom of speech.
* Among previous dispatch on Raif Badawi, please see, from January 2015 (just after the Charlie Hebdo attacks):
Above, Raif Badawi with his three children shortly before his arrest.
IRAN AGAIN TARGETS RUSHDIE FOR DEATH
One matter I forgot to mention in yesterday’s dispatch in relation to the Iranian government offering tens of thousands of dollars to Palestinian families whose sons and daughters knife Jews to death, is that earlier this week Iranian government-controlled news organizations grouped together to offer $600,000 to anyone who murders British novelist Salmon Rushdie. Such is the result of Obama’s and Kerry’s policies of rapprochement with the Iranian regime.
Henryk Broder, one of Germany’s most famous journalists (he is a subscriber to this email list) published on his website his correspondence with, and reply from, the Federal German government spokesperson and sends the spokesperson my interview with Ensaf Haidar.
He asks the spokesperson:
“I wonder why the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, which has practiced an exemplary culture of welcome and received over a million ‘Asylum seekers’, is not capable of offering Raif Badawi political asylum?”
Tom Gross interviews Ensaf Haidar (right)
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