Hello again from the end of June!
It’s time to turn the keyboard over to our resident Guest Author, Taylor Anne Vigil. Today Taylor is addressing an issue important to her and, if we’re being good citizens of a global community, to everyone: Raif Badawi and his continuing mistreatment at the hands of the Saudi authorities.
I won’t try to recap all she has put into her post; but the ordeal Badawi and his family have endured is beyond criminal.
(Note: This post may be updated as new content is provided.)
Raif (Badawi) is said to be in great psychological distress following the anniversary of his ninth year in a Saudi prison. His distress is shared by his wife of nineteen years, Ensaf, who urges her husband be released quickly.
“It’s especially hard on the children,” she said, referring to Najiwa (19) Tirad (18), and Miriam (14). “Because their father has missed the important milestones of their childhood.”
Raif has always been crazy about his little ones. In his absence, both Najiwa and Tirad have graduated high school, a happy memory made sorrowful at the sight of all the fathers who were able to attend the ceremonies. Little Miriam started high school wishing that her father could be there to drop her off so she could “Show off my Daddy to all the other kids and say, ‘Look at my father. Look how great he is!'”
Ensaf fears that the ten-year travel ban, which will prevent Raif from going home to her and the children in Canada after his release in February 2022, will be the last straw for her husband, only adding to the suffering they are all already experiencing. If granted Canadian citizenship, Raif could get access to crucial support such as counters and legal assistance. Saudi Arabia, unfortunately, doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. But I believe we can change that.
The last time a public figure (Mike Pence) called for Raif’s release, the Saudi government took away Raif’s books and denied him access to medical care. At the same time, there was enough International pressure to persuade the prison guards to stop their mistreatment of Raif and his lawyer, Waleed. International pressure was also the reason that Raif has received no more than the first fifty lashes out of his sentence of 1,000.
Saudi Arabia has been given a free pass for too long. It is high time we raise our voices for Raif and his family. It is high time we share his story and say his name wherever and whenever we can. It is high time we create an international outcry for him to be granted citizenship, for his immediate release, for him to finally be reunited with his family.