Free speech prize for jailed Saudi blogger

Free speech prize for jailed Saudi blogger

Raif Badawi, languishing in jail in Saudi Arabia for ‘insulting Islam’, has won the Pen Pinter Prize for championing free speech.

Badawi is serving a 10-year sentence and received 50 of 1,000 lashes that formed part of his punishment. He was also fined £175,000.

He shares the prize with British poet and journalist James Fenton.

Accepting the award for Badawi, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the British government should “show moral leadership” and seek his release.

Raif should have been honoured for founding a website that allowed healthy public discourse in Saudi Arabia; he should not have been held behind bars, facing flogging.

Saudi Arabia enforces a strict version of Islamic law and does not tolerate political dissent. It has some of the highest social media usage rates in the region, and has cracked down on domestic online criticism.

Badawi was convicted of insulting Islam in 2012. He received his first 50 lashes in January, but subsequent floggings have been postponed.

In June, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict despite foreign outcry.

Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar, who has campaigned for his release, said she was “honoured” by the award, and added:

Raif is just a peace-loving intellectual who was not content to be part of the flock or to follow men of religion who are out of touch with the real world and who rule through laws that are unjust and despotic.

The award was established in 2009 in memory of playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter.

It is awarded annually to one British writer and one international writer, who show:

A fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.

Fenton, who was awarded the UK element of the prize earlier this year, said:

What moved me was the contrast between the simplicity of Mr Badawi’s liberal aims – their modesty, almost – and the ferocity of the punishments they have brought down on him. Imprisonment, astonishing fines, corporal punishment designed to break either the spirit or the body first and to act as a chill warning to others.

It is a world of inconceivable cruelty, but intimately linked to ours by business, strategic interests, military and diplomatic ties. For our part, then, protest has a purpose and – who knows? – perhaps even a chance of some sort of success.

Previous winners of the Pinter Prize include Tom Stoppard, Carol Ann Duffy, Hanif Kureishi and last year’s winner, Salman Rushdie.

Hat tip:  AgentCormac

17 responses to “Free speech prize for jailed Saudi blogger”

  1. Newspaniard says:

    One day we will find an alternative to Saudi oil and then our politicians won’t have to be nice to those savages any more.

  2. Newspaniard says:

    I see that the over bloated, self important, fat cats of Oxfam have accused its fellow citizens of not taking its “fair share” of “refugees”. Do they mean the terrorists, freeloaders, and economic migrants fighting the police on the borders of the EU? We are taking vetted refugees from the camps surrounding Syria and finding it very difficult to re-home them. Would that legendary “charitable” organization like us to get into the same state as Sweden or Germany where the ordinary citizenry live in fear and are on the brink of insurrection? No thanks, point and sneer all you like but, at the moment the UK is full. Maybe it will improve after the referendum.

  3. Want jihad... Really? says:

    The rulers and moguls, the house of Saudi have a lot to answer for. They are the ones sponsoring the global spread of islamofacism. They are the ones formenting the plans and ambitions to enforce global sharia and to drag humanity back into the dark ages. They are also shit scared of their state imploding through the dissent of their own people. I know this because a very well informed colleague of mine has worked for many years in Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait and others. I his view Saudi is on the brink of major rebellion and this will result in escalation of all the violence that is stored up over the years across that part of the world. Think the Syria troubles are bad? Well you ain’t send anything yet. And Russia is in there to stirring it all up ready to precipitate the conflict with the added bonus of taunting the USA. All the volatile materials are there already, all primed up and ready to blow. It’s too late to stop it now. It’s just a matter of time as the pressures ratchet up to breaking point. Get ready to weep.

  4. Angela_K says:

    Our Prime Minister has implied that foreign trade is more important than human rights and there is a suggestion Cameron was involved in vote rigging or trading so that Saudi Arabia has a place on the UN HR council.

  5. A Confused Atheist says:

    Good. In this day-and-age, free speech should be a universal right for all, no matter what one’s belief is. When free speech is being held back from people, then we all know that there is a big problem.

    Raif Badawi is an inspiration to all for sticking to his guns under such a totalitarian, borderline-Fascist regime like the one in Saudi Arabia.

  6. Stephen Mynett says:

    Angela, have seen that in other places as well, the truth, if they would admit it is that the religious right, including Tony Blair, secretly admire the Saudi rulers and what they have “achieved”. I very much doubt many of them are particularly religious but religion does what their own political organisations cannot, it brings (forces) people into line, whether by psychological or physical methods, and keeps them there

    Luckily in parts of the West the church is now too weak to help the politicians any more, although there are many who would be happy too see a return to the old days, Putin and the Russian Orthodox are giving it a bloody good go and I am sure the likes of the Tea Party would give it a try as well.

  7. Trevor Blake says:

    “Saudi Arabia enforces a strict version of Islamic law.”

    To clarify, Saudi Arabia practices Islam as it has been practiced for centuries , as clearly prescribed in all major and minor works and histories of Islam. The problem is Islam. Atheism is one good answer to that problem.

  8. Newspaniard says:

    OT (Again). Has anyone else noticed that all the reporting from the EU borders about those “poor downtrodden refugees” seems to have stopped. Can I speculate that things have become very nasty and the press/governments don’t want us to see how badly these savages are behaving. Of course, that is all speculation, but I bet that I’m not far off the truth.

  9. dennis says:

    @Angela_K, yes the love of profits currently rule all government. business men or women should not be in government. it’s like letting the fox rule the chicken coup. the government has loftier duties than profits. but we secularist can get caught up on the bottom line also, ex- ME during my corporate days.

    I hope that Mr Badawi is released yesterday not today.

  10. Broga says:

    @Newspaniard: I have noted that when you give to big charities the first call on your cash is around £100,000 p.a. for the boss and big salaries for his/her minions. The argument is that they have to pay big money to “attract the best.” What they make sure is that the ordinary contributor only sees the pathetic children, often posed, and hears nothing of the first call on their cash which is for the fat cats.

    Our charity giving goes to small outfits, like the local children’s hospice, where we know the money is spent on those we wanted to help.

  11. Newspaniard says:

    @Broga. I’m with you on that. I’m also wary of medical research charities. What incentive would a director of such a charity have to actually find a cure when, by doing such, he would be out of a job? Like the big drugs companies, far better to find a more expensive treatment than an actual cure.

    Where were we? Ah yes, the savage Saudis and how they have the west in a strangle hold…

  12. Club Secretary says:

    @Broga says:
    Wed 7 Oct at 3:40 pm
    “@Newspaniard: I have noted that when you give to big charities the first call on your cash is around £100,000 p.a.”

    £100,000 and the rest, Oxfam paid £120,000 a couple of years ago, the CEO of the RSPCA gets £160,00 and the Red Cross £180,000.

    I am sure they also get an additional pension package, car , medical insurance etc.

  13. Broga says:

    @Club Secretary : They are shameless. Their phony adverts con decent and often poor people into handing over their money thinking that it is going straight to the people and animals who feature in the posed adverts. I used to give to the Guide Dogs for the Blind till I discovered what was happening there.

  14. Stephen Mynett says:

    A guy I used to work with gave up journalism and took a PR job with a fairly obscure charity, I think it was Well Child or something like that, his salary was immediately double that of his previous job.

    It is difficult to find a charity worth giving too, although the payments Broga listed are peanuts compared to the amount conned out of people and never used for cause mentioned by the Albanian poison dwarf.

  15. Newspaniard says:

    @Stephen Mynett Albanian poison dwarf? I missed tat one. Who (s)he?

  16. Stephen Mynett says:

    Mother Theresa, actually not from Albania but it was one of the corrupt regimes she had dealings with, although not difficult as she dealt with a lot of criminals.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Mother Teresa’s family were of Albanian descent, but she was born in Skopje. This article from Stern Magazine is one of my favourite pieces about the sadistic fraud: