Thursday

29th Feb 2024

Raif Badawi: Saudi blogger wins Sakharov Prize

  • A demonstration for the release of Badawi outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Helsinki (Photo: Amnesty Finland)

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticising the country’s religious establishment, was awarded on Thursday (29 October) the European Parliament’s 2015 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

EP president Martin Schulz, who announced the prize winner in Strasbourg, said that Badawi’s flogging amounts to “permanent torture” and called on Saudi king Salman to release the blogger.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Badawi was arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a large fine of around $300,000 for insulting Islamic values on his website, called Free Saudi Liberals.

Allegedly, Badawi’s website hosted material criticising senior religious figures and he suggested that the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University had become a den for terrorists.

He was brought in front of a court on several charges, including apostasy.

"The charges against Badawi are based solely on his peaceful exercise of his right to free expression," Human Rights Watch, an organisation monitoring human rights violations, said earlier this year, adding that Badawi set up his online platform to encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia.

He received the first set of 50 lashes in January this year before hundreds of spectators in Jeddah, but the rest of the flogging was postponed following international outcry.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International called the flogging “a vicious act of cruelty, which is prohibited under international law.”

On Thursday, Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, now living in Canada with their children, said that according to trustworthy sources, Badawi’s flogging will resume soon.

Badawi was nominated by the Socialists and Democrats, the European Conservatives and Reformists group, and the Greens in the EP.

The EP’s freedom of thought award, set up in 1988, is named after the Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Other finalists for the prize were assassinated Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and Venezuelan opposition movement Mesa de la Unidad Democratica.

Earlier this month, Badawi won the Pen Pinter Prize for championing free speech.

MEPs have stopped blogging, are afraid of Twitter, love Facebook

However real or exaggerated reports of 'Twitter revolutions' and 'Facebook activism' in Tunisia, Moldova, Iran and the UK are, members of the European Parliament appear on the whole to be afraid of the micro-blogging utility yet they seem to be in love with the social networking service.

Lone Merkel declares Saudi arms ban

Germany has announced a unilateral arms ban on Saudi Arabia over its killing of a journalist, but France, the UK, and the US have not followed suit.

Latest News

  1. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  2. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger
  3. EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds
  4. Right of Reply: The EU-ACP Samoa agreement
  5. The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse
  6. Belgium braces for Flemish far-right gains, deadlock looms
  7. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  8. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us