Saudi Activist, Not Guilty, But Still Behind Bars
Saudi Arabian blogger, activist, and creator of the website for social and political debate “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” Raif Badawi is still languishing behind bars for freely expressing his opinion online. This week, he announced on Twitter that he and his young daughter Najwa and his son Trad are going on hunger strike in protest. Badawi has been in detention since June 2012 on charges that originally included “setting up a website that undermines general security,” insulting Islamic religious leaders, and apostasy, a grave offense that is punishable by death. This January, prosecutors decided not to move ahead with the apostasy charges, though he remains in jail and on trial for the others.
Supporters of Badawi believe he is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately. They’re now using the hashtag below, which can be translated as "the hunger strike of Raif Badawi’s children":
Many Saudis have spoken out in defense of Badawi, wanting to know why he is still in jail when he has already been ruled innoncent:
اضراب_ابناء_رائف_بدوي_عن_الطعامالآن قضيته بحكم المنتهية بعد أن عجزوا عن ايجاد تهمه , فلماذا لازال بالسجن ؟!— سعد آل سالم(@saadalsalem) February 12, 2013
“His case has ended after they failed to find a charge against him. Why he still behind bars?”
“The hunger strike is not a solution but it explains the physiological situation of his family, God will curse those who gloat, down with the hearts that have no mercy.”
While others, have criticized Badawi after he was found “Not Guilty”:
#اضراب_ابناء_رائف_بدوي_عن_الطعام استجداء العواطف لا يجدي نفعاً امام الشَرع فليستريحوا بني ليبرال ..!— د. رهف الحربي (@drrahaif) February 13, 2013
“Appealing to emotions are worthless in the eyes of God’s Law. Sit tight the sons of liberals.”
Badawi was first detained on apostasy charges in 2008, but was released after a day of questioning. He was banned from leaving the country and his bank accounts were frozen. Since December 2012, Badawi’s most recent charge of apostasy has been juggled between the higher and lower courts. This quiet method of shuttling activsits between courts and jails is a common tactic in Saudi Arabia, as it prevents the widespread international condemnation that arises when a harsh judgement is handed down.