Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger punished for founding a liberal website has spoken out about his ordeal in a statement published in the German weekly Der Spiegel.
He described the fact that he survived the first batch of lashes as ‘miraculous’ recording his memory of the crowds chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) while he was flogged.
He said “All this cruel suffering happened to me only because I expressed my opinion.”
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 1 million rials ($266,000).
Raif Badawi's "crime" was moderating an internet forum that encouraged participants to voice their opinion about religion in the kingdom.
He founded the online forum “Free Saudi Liberals” in 2008 which encouraged open debate about issues that are normally considered taboo in the heavily regulated Wahhabi kingdom.
He received the first batch of 50 lashes in January, but the rest have been postponed since he has not recovered from the first 50.
Now he has spoken out in a statement he dictated by phone to his wife. It appears in full as the preface to a new book entitled “1,000 lashes: Why I Say What I Think.”
The book is being published in Germany on April 1.
Raif Badawi may be tried again, this time for apostasy, which carries the death penalty. Although the judge requested charges of apostasy, the criminal court does not have jurisdiction over capital cases. Yet following a new regulation in the Supreme Court, such jurisdiction has now been granted.
It is believed that the case would be referred to the same judge who sentenced him previously.
Groups such as Amnesty International have been leading an international campaign to free Raif, calling on Saudi Arabia’s newly-crowned King Salman to issue a royal pardon.
Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program demanded: "Instead of continuing to torment Raif Badawi by dragging out his ordeal with repeated assessments the authorities should publicly announce an end to his flogging and release him immediately and unconditionally.
Raif Badawi's campaign has attracted international attention, and he has received several awards for his activism.
Video: Video statement from Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar on Raif Badawi's receipt of the Geneva Summit Courage Award in 2015.
Raif Badawi's sister Samar Badawi, who's husband Waleed Abulkhair is also currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for his own human rights activism, shared her story with Clarion in the past.
If you are moved by Raif Badawi's story, contact the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. to express your views:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 337-4076