January 13: Birthday Vigil for Raif Badawi
Imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi will spend his 33rd birthday in a Saudi Arabian prison. He was arrested in June 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes on a charge of “insulting Islam.” Among his activities was setting up a website that championed free speech, called the Free Saudi Liberals, which was closed after his arrest.
As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.
— Raif Badawi
Trying to “silence free-thinkers can often become the best way of amplifying their voices,” English PEN writes. They have been holding regular vigils outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London since 2015 to call for his release. To mark Raif Badawi’s 33rd birthday they will hold a special vigil, joined by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and others.
Reporters without borders gallery: Predators of press freedom