Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know who Raif Badawi is. The secular journalist presently in a Saudi jail for writing some things that the Saudi government felt were offensive and decided to jail him.
Since then, Badawi has been languishing in a Saudi jail cell serving his sentence of 10-years and 1000 lashes.
But despite all these ground realities, a lot of Canadians would still fail to answer a basic question. what exactly did Raif Badawi write to get the Saudis so wrangled up?
After all, this is the man that’s the key bone of contention that led to the recent diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia.
The 34-year old journalist used to maintain a website titled “Free Saudi Liberals”. The website was what you’d expect from any un-biased journalistic site in the Western world. It promoted free speech, secularism, freedom of ideas as well as the occasional criticism of how the country was being governed.
One of these posts was enough to trigger a harsh response from the Saudi regime that arrested him for “insulting Islam through electronic channels”. The situation went from bad to worse for Badawi’s family. This is where the Canadian government stepped in and gave Badawi’s wife and his three children official refugee status. They were also granted Canadian citizenship this year.
The Saudis have never specified which of his posts actually got him in trouble in the first place. An archive of all his posts made on his original Free Saudi Liberals can be found here.
Some of the posts made on the website include fighting Hamas if it were to ever conquer Israel, referring to the January 2011 uprising in Egypt as an inspiration for a secular Saudi Arabia, opposition to building a mosque near the site of the World Trade Centre and decrying the Saudi regime’s brutal ideology.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.