Five Years on, Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi's Family Repeats Call for His Release

One of Amnesty International's campaign posters for Raif Badawi. Source: Twitter.

Activists are calling for the release of Saudi activist Raif Badawi, who has completed five years of his 10-year sentence in prison.

In 2013, a criminal court in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia sentenced Badawi to seven years in prison and 600 lashes on a charge of “insulting Islam through electronic channels”.

Badawi was prosecuted for creating the blog “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, an online forum he launched in 2008 debating the role of religion in the conservative kingdom.

In 2014, his sentence was increased to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.

The most recent campaign was launched by Amnesty International. The human rights group worked with Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, and their three children who live in Sherbrooke, Canada, to help free Raif.

They published a video of his three children demanding the release of their father.

- Ten years in prison, 100 lashes, for writing words for peace.
– It’s not fair that our father is in prison. He’s not killed anybody.
– We’ve had enough.
– He just created a blog.
– That’s not illegal.
– We’ve waited too long.
– We need to see our daddy.
– The thing I miss most about my dad…
– is his infectious smile.

On Twitter, Amnesty International's Gulf account invited its followers to tweet directly at Saudi Arabia's King Salman, asking him to free Raif.

Raif's children also shared additional messages for Raif through Amnesty's website.

“When we left to Canada, I thought you’d surprise us at the airport. But you weren’t there. I remained angry,” 14 years old Najwa writes.

“For the longest time, I thought you had left us. I thought you didn’t love us anymore or didn’t care. For the longest time, I was worried sick about Mom. What was going to happen to us without you?”

Miriam, 10 was a four-year-old the last time she saw her father. She wrote: “I try to remember you. Your voice, your hugs, but I can’t. I was tiny, clinging on to Mom when we left you and ran away.”

The then 32-year-old was also ordered to pay a one million riyals fine (approximately US$266,600). In January 2015, he was flogged 50 out of the scheduled 1,000 lashes. His second flogging has been postponed due to Badawi's poor health.

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