Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger who was convicted of apostasy and “insulting Islam” in 2014. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, plus 1,000 lashes to be administered in twenty installments. He received fifty lashes in January of this year, but the rest have been repeatedly postponed. He is said to be in poor health as he languishes in prison.
Mr. Badawi’s wife and children now live in Quebec, and her husband has many supporters in Canada. On November 2 a protest organized by Amnesty International took place outside the Saudi embassy in Ottawa. Xanthippa was there on behalf of Czech Independent TV to report on the demonstration and interview some of the participants.
Many thanks to Victor Laszlo for recording this video, and to Vlad Tepes for uploading it:
To watch the same footage with Czech subtitles, see this program from Czech Independent TV (begins at 10:50).
Below are excerpts from an article about the Ottawa protest that was published last week in The Globe and Mail:
Raif Badawi’s supporters met by closed doors at Saudi embassy in Ottawa
Supporters of Raif Badawi found themselves up against the closed doors of Saudi Arabia’s embassy Monday as they tried unsuccessfully to deliver 31,000 letters demanding the imprisoned blogger’s release.
Badawi, whose wife and three children live in Quebec, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his criticism of Saudi clerics.
Demonstrators gathered to hand over the letters and petitions, which come from about 20 different countries, primarily Canada.
But unlike the first time they tried something similar earlier in the year, Saudi officials wouldn’t open the door.
Amnesty International said the timing was deliberate, with a new Liberal government to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, says she would like prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau to work to end her husband’s detention and help him return to Canada.
Hopeful he’d be released when the year began, Haidar said she doesn’t see “a bright side” now.
“I would like for Mr. Trudeau to work on (the file), talk to Saudi Arabian government officials directly and ask that Raif be released from prison,” Haidar said. “I hope soon Raif will be free with us.”
Beatrice Vaugrante, head of Amnesty International’s Francophone branch based in Quebec, was with Haidar in February when she met with Trudeau, who condemned Badawi’s “inhumane treatment” and called for the Canadian authorities to do more to secure his release.
“We can hope that between February and now, there hasn’t been a change in that position and now that Mr. Trudeau will be prime minister, he will take a clear position and intervene,” Vaugrante said.
Vaugrante called it “extremely disappointing, even alarming” that the embassy would not accept the letters, and wondered if it meant communication channels were becoming more rigid.
Last week, Badawi won the Sakharov Prize, a prestigious human rights honour from the European parliament.