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Interview ( 24 Jan 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Ensaf Haidar: Raif Badawi Is a ‘Peaceful Person’ Who Deserves To Be Freed


 By Daniel Lak

23 Jan 2015 

 Ensaf Haidar and children


Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old Saudi blogger who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticising the country's religious leaders, was due to receive his second set of 50 lashes.

A committee of Saudi doctors recommended the lashes be suspended this week because of health reasons.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from her home in Canada, Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, says her husband is a "peaceful person" who deserves to be freed.

Al Jazeera: Tell us about your husband and how this happened to him.

Ensaf Haidar: My husband is an activist and the founder of the "Free Saudi liberal network". Raif believed in the freedom of speech and the respect of other beliefs. The main reason he launched the network is to promote debate and discussion about lots of topics in Saudi society.

He is accused of lots of things. In my opinion, Raif's detention is unjust and they should re-try him and set him free. All he was asking for was freedom of speech. And because he wrote that down, he was thrown in jail.

AJ: Have you heard from him at all? Do you speak? Are you able to communicate?

EH: Yes, we talk to each other. It's been four years since the kids and I have seen him, but we talk over the phone through official channels when he gets permission from the jail administration.

AJ: What do you know about his physical condition? How is he bearing up in this ordeal?

EH: His physical and psychological state is bad. Last week he was supposed to be flogged for the second time, but the jail doctor said that his body was not up to it. You know, when someone gets 50 lashes and knows he's going to receive another 50 lashes next week, he is certainly not going to feel good.

AJ: Is there any hope in the fact that the king had asked the Supreme Court to examine your husband's case? Any hope of a reprieve, a relaxation in the situation?

EH: The Office of the Saudi King filed Raif's case to the Supreme Court, but this did not help Raif because even after doing so, he still received the 50 lashes and that indicates that there's no change in his case.

AJ: Canada, the United States and other countries that are making these appeals for your husband's freedom, also have close relations with Saudi Arabia and in some cases sell them arms and other items. Do you have any hope that these appeals will work on the Saudi government?

EH: I don't think that this will make a difference and will not affect Raif's case. Raif's jailing is unjust and the governments of the world should call for his release on a humanitarian basis, but I don't think political relations with the Saudis will help.

AJ: What do you think the world can do to help? Tell us what can be done to help your husband.

EH: All that I can do is to raise my voice and make countries listen and help Raif. Raif is a peaceful person, his own man. He is a great dad and husband, and I call on all countries to stand by our side and call for the release and freedom of Raif.