Free Raif poster

Around 30-40 people attended this evening’s silent vigil outside Belfast City Hall organised by Amnesty to mark the treatment of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was recently “sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes [50 a week], a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (over a quarter of a million US dollars), and prevented from using any kind of media or travelling until 2034”. Amnesty explain:

Raif’s sentence stems from his creation of the website ‘Saudi Arabian Liberials’, which he envisaged as a forum for political and social debate. He was subsequently charged for content he had posted to the site, including an article published on Valentine’s Day 2012 in which he was accused of ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s religious police, the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – as well as failing to remove ‘offensive’ posts by other contributors.

Raif was arrested in June 2012. In May 2014 he was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia’s strict technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures by creating and managing an online forum.

For many of us, blogging is a pretty safe hobby. There is considerable freedom of speech. While some journalists were targeted and even killed during the Troubles, most bloggers write and report relatively unimpeded. For Raif, the consequences have been barbaric.

Photo credit: Kevin Cooper

Free Raif

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.

  • Dan

    Not one comment. If it was Israel accused, there’d have been ten thousand at city hall and two hundred comments here.

  • Morpheus

    A perfect example of what The West picks and chooses to be outraged about.

    Satirist tragically murdered in Paris and we get world ‘leaders’ out in force in front of the world’s media…the same week literally thousands were tragically murdered in Nigeria – men, woman and children – and not a peep. A few weeks ago we were outraged by ISIS beheadings yet during the week we had public beheadings in the street in Saudi Arabia – one beheading among many- yet today David Cameron talks about his sadness for the passing of the Saudi King. I would’ve thought that in this day and age when everyone with a mobile phone is a blogger we would have seen a lot more support for the blogger Raif Badawi, but no. Small pockets of support.

    It’s like we reserve our outrage until BBC and Sky have a 24-7 scrolling bar across the screen. It worries me that we as a society are that weak minded and so easily manipulated by the media that we only jump on bandwagons of their choosing.

  • carl marks

    As long as the Saudies pump out oil. Buy arms from the west , then the government,s in the west don’t care what they do, or how they treat dissent, how many people it imprison’s, tortures or kill’s.
    And of course when things crack under the strain, the western governments will act surprised and hurt when those get rid of the old corrupt and oppressive regime remember those who supported it when it was s#@ting on them.

  • $136050377

    There is people interned in the prisons in the occupied 6 counties

  • $136050377

    What do the Saudi’s do with their arms?
    ISIS is running rampant and they call on the USA.
    The only time the Saudi army did anything was to go into Bahrain and face down unarmed democracy protestors. They don’t need all those arms for that.

  • Croiteir

    So Amnesty decides, rightly, to campaign for this blogger yet at the same time promoted the extension of murderous abortion today in Belfast