Humanists give cautious welcome to Raif Badawi case review

January 16, 2015

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) had been focusing its “#FreeRaif” campaign messages directly on the personal responsibility of the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah. One image retweeted on social network Twitter over 1,000 times features the stories of Raif Badawi and King Abdullah alongside both their portraits, and declares, “For as long as he is being beaten or held in prison, we believe Raif and King Abdullah should be seen pictured together as often as possible.”

This evening it has been confirmed that the office of the king has referred Raif Badawi’s case back to the Supreme Court for “review”.

Reacting to the news, Ian Scott – Acting Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland – said:

“We echo the very cautious welcome of the news that Raif’s flogging has been postponed for health reasons. We hope that the Supreme Court will see sense in this matter and overturn this outrageous conviction.

“Freedom of thought and expression is one of the most basic fundamental rights. Civilisation makes progress through open and honest debate, in the free marketplace of ideas. As humanists, we assert that rights belong to individuals and not to institutions or ideas – the mere idea that ‘insulting Islam’ is a crime which deserves this barbaric punishment is in conflict with all that we stand for.

“We express solidarity with Raif, and will continue to do what we can, working with international partners to advocate for his release.”

IHEU’s Communications Director, Bob Churchill, said tonight:

“The medical postponement [this morning] was better than nothing, but very difficult to assess in terms of the direction or intentions of the authorities. It may have been entirely non-political. The news that his case is to be ‘reviewed’ though is — I say this very cautiously — a sign for hope: it means hope that the highest authorities in the country are hearing the voices of concern from around the world and acting to reverse this unjust decision.

“But it is no cause yet to celebrate. Raif Badawi remains in prison, must be in great pain, and is living under constant threat of further floggings very soon.
“So this is a very cautious welcome for a very tentative sign of hope. We hope that the Supreme Court review will take into account the fundamental human rights objections: that the crime itself was in fact merely exercise of entirely legitimate free expression, the charge of “insulting Islam” is neither legitimate nor accurate, and that the flogging sentence is needlessly cruel and constitutes torture. We must remain vigilant and hear Raif’s family, local supporters and fellow human rights advocates, who believe international pressure is essential to achieving true justice in his case.”
Humanist organizations have been among the chorus of human rights groups, activists, and governments internationally, calling for the release of persecuted Saudi liberal, Raif Badawi.
With news that Raif received the first round of 1,000 lashes last Friday, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and many of its Member Organizations, have been among those rallying individuals on social media and elsewhere to highlight the gross injustice of his sentence. IHEU has repeatedly highlighted Raif’s case at the UN Human Rights Council and elsewhere.

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