An Incident in Quebec: Raif Badawi


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Laila and Majnun at School, Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami, Calligrapher: Ja’far Baisunghuri (active first half 15th century), Author: Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217), Folio from an illustrated manuscript, Date: A.H. 835/ A.D. 1431–32 (Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

An Incident

Quebec’s Premier, Dr Philippe Couillard, worked for four years in Saudi Arabia. He is a neurosurgeon who founded or co-founded a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Some members of the opposition in Quebec have therefore been throwing stones in his direction. One could suggest that, as members of the opposition, it is in these politicians best interest to find fault with the Premier, but what about Mr Badawi?

La Rochefoucauld (15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680) wrote a large number of Maximes according to which humans act out of “self-interest.” He is quite right, but the fact remains that many human beings do not act out of self-interest, at least not in the narrowest acceptation of the term. Moreover, although some individuals are rewarded for the good they have done, the good they have done remains good.

A radio personality stated that Premier Couillard would have collaborated with Hitler, which is provocation. That person has since apologized and apologies were accepted. We are closing this door.


But yesterday, I saw disparaging comments on Twitter with respect to Dr Couillard, the Premier of Quebec. My response was that Dr Couillard knew the territory, and was in a good position to help Mr Badawi.

No one has tapped Premier Couillard’s telephone, so we do not know what he may have said to Saudi officials, if he phoned Saudi officials. His telephone bill may show that he has phoned the royal family, but we would not know what he said. It would be imprudent on the part of Premier Couillard to provide details concerning a private telephone conversation. He may antagonize Saudi officials, if there was a conversation.


Protest is necessary, but throwing stones is not be a good approach. We know, for instance, that upon appeal, Mr Badawi’s sentence grew from 7 years in prison to 10 years, and from 600 lashes to 1,000. Mr Badawi’s story reminds me of Nicolas Fouquet’s demise. This is a story I have told (see RELATED ARTICLES).

I will note, however, that when Nicolas Fouquet appealed his sentence: banishment, Louis XIV, an absolute monarch, sentenced him to life imprisonment. In both Fouquet’s and Raif Badawi’s cases, we are dealing with absolute monarchs, which should be taken into consideration.

Mr Badawi was not flogged on 16 January 2015, nor was he flogged on 23 January. In fact, he may not be flogged again. This is reassuring. He has yet to be sent to Canada, but we should not assume he will not be released.


Kindest regards to all of you.


Joseph Haydn‘s Serenade


Dr Philippe Couillard

© Micheline Walker
25 January 2015

An Appeal to King Salman of Saudi Arabia


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Three Noblemen in Procession on an Elephant
Painting by Venkatchellum
(active 1780s–90s)
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi (Amnesty International)

Raif Badawi will not be flogged today, 23 January 2015. In fact, he may not be flogged again. He is not robust and suffers from diabetes. Consequently, he might not survive another flogging. Mr Badawi has not been sentenced to death.

As you all know, Mr Badawi’s case has been referred to the Supreme Court. This, in my opinion, voids his earlier sentence. They may not agree.

Condolences and a Plea

However, I have an option. I can appeal to the royal family. I am therefore asking King Salman to spare Mr Badawi further floggings and possible death by torture, and to put him on a plane to Canada. We are waiting for him. He might need a wheelchair.

I cannot change the laws of Saudi Arabia. If the laws of Saudi Arabia are to be changed, it is for Saudis to change them.

I am told that flogging is popular in Saudi Arabia, which means that I may be laughed at if I suggest the laws of Saudi Arabia should be in keeping with the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and concomitant International Law. It may take forever before I am heard.

The Feasible

Therefore, all I can do is, first,

  • offer my sympathies to the royal family. King Abdullah has died and the new king is King Salman, his half-brother;
  • second, beg the new king, King Salman, to show mercy and release Raif Badawi. The government of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. I must therefore go straight to the King himself and Saudi Arabian authorities, his entourage.

I live in a country where freedom of expression is unhindered, except for libel, defamation, incitement to violence, etc. Therefore, I cannot understand why Mr Badawi is serving a jail sentence of ten years for advocating more tolerance towards liberals in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, I live in a country where citizens are not subjected to flogging. For me, what is happening to Raif Badawi makes no sense, but for the Saudis, the values I am promoting may seem ridiculous.

One Act of Clemency

I am therefore using my blog to ask for clemency, one act of clemency. That is all I can ask for and perhaps obtain. I am therefore asking King Salman to release Mr Badawi because his children need a father and his wife, a husband.

Please release Raif Badawi.


My kindest regards to all of you.


Black Stork in a Landscape, ca. 1780 India, probably Lucknow, Colonial British Watercolor on European paper (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

Maher Zain


The Portuguese, mid-17th century (MMA, NY)

© Micheline Walker
23 January 2015

On Freedom of Speech: from Pope Francis to Raif Badawi


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Page of Calligraphy with Stenciled and Painted Borders from a Subhat al-Abrar (Rosary of the Devout) of Jami Author: Maulana Nur al-Din `Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414–92) Calligrapher: Sultan `Ali Mashhadi (ca.1440–1520) (Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)


Pope Francis in Manila (The Independent, UK)

To read Pope Francis’ Statement, go to “There are limits,” says Pope Francis (19 January 2015)

According to journalist Stefano Hatfield, Pope Francis expressed “his” views on the Paris attacks.

“In case you missed it, Francis was giving his views on the Charlie Hebdo affair. He said he supported free speech, BUT… and, as you can tell, it was a big “but”. The Pope illustrated what he meant through an apparently light-hearted reference to what would happen if his advisor insulted the Papal mother.”
(The Independent, UK)

It would be my opinion that, freedom of speech is a major issue, a global issue, and that it therefore warrants a comment from one of the world’s major leaders. Why should Pope Francis not give his views on freedom of speech?

At least 18 Nobel Laureates are asking for a resolution to Raif Badawi’s sorry condition. I look upon them as “superior” minds possessing the credibility and authority that have earned them a Nobel Prize. Such people should speak out when people are murdered, or when a blogger is about to be tortured to death because he advocated more tolerance towards liberals in his country, and did so peacefully.

A more lenient reading

May I propose, moreover, a more lenient reading of Pope Francis’ comment. Pope Francis did not condemn freedom of speech itself, but he advocated prudence and recommended that humans use freedom of speech for “the good of all.”

“Whoa! The Pope advocating not turning the other cheek? This really is new territory for the man who has been an admirable champion of the poor and scourge of corruption in his own Church during his brief time as boss.”

May I also propose that Pope Francis did not advocate retaliation. Turning the other cheek, remains the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, yet, it is “normal” to defend one’s mother if she is cursed.

An Anecdote

As a nine-year old, I kicked a big fellow who was attacking a small fellow who wore eyeglasses. The small fellow could not defend himself. He would have broken his glasses and his mother would have punished him. When I kicked him, the big fellow loosened his grip and I told the small fellow to run away as quickly as possible. This was not vengeance, this was indignation. A small fellow was being attacked by a bully and could not defend himself, so I became the little fellow: “Je suis toi.” (I’m you.).

Similarly, the Pope would be indignant if someone cursed his mother, which would not be vengeance. The punch would be an instinctive: “Don’t you dare insult my mother.” In fact, he may not have meant an actual punch, but words. Vengeance implies a degree of premeditation.

“Mr Cameron challenged the Pope, who said, in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, that people ‘cannot insult the faith of others’. The Prime Minister said: ‘I’m a Christian; if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but I don’t have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them.’”

Read more:

Under Wikipedia’s entry on freedom of speech, I see restrictions: to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, hate speech, etc. It is a long list. Violation of these restrictions may threaten the rule of law, an ideology dating back to Greco-Roman antiquity.

The people who killed in Paris were haters who did not comply with the afore-mentioned rule of law and may have been taught hatred. I heard one of the Kouachi brothers say they had not killed, others had killed: the French, for instance. (See Kouachi brothers’ radicalization).


If one reads Michel de Montaigne, Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662; 39), Montesquieu (18 January 1689 – 10 February 1755), and other thinkers, one will find a plea for moderation in everything. Moreover, if one looks at liberalism (see Liberalism, Wikipedia), its proponents have rejected “hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings.” (See The Social Contract: Hobbes, Locke & Rousseau)

Proponents of liberalism have also opposed “traditional conservatism and sought to replace absolutism in government with representative democracy and the rule of law”.


“Pope Francis is clearly a different breed of religious leader. But this week he blew it.”

I do not think Pope Francis “blew it.” I agree with British Prime Minister Jim Cameron. One does not wreak vengeance:

“I’m a Christian; if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but I don’t have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them.”

I would also say:

“I’m a Christian; if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but I don’t have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them.”

Furthermore, I might say:

“I am a Muslim; if someone…”

However, Pope Francis did not advocate vengeance. He advocated prudence. It could be that, at the age of 9, he might have kicked a bully who was attacking a little fellow protecting his eyeglasses, but vengeance, in 2015.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

At the moment, however, vengeance is about to be wreaked once again on Raif Badawi. He is scheduled to be flogged on Friday 23 February, which does not make sense.

Given that Mr Badawi’s case has been referred to the Supreme Court, it would seem one should not torture him until the Supreme Court has made its determinations. Judges require time to examine the facts and, until they do, it would seem appropriate to consider Mr Badawi’s earlier sentence null and void. I trust members of the Supreme Court will protest.


Ninety-year-old (90) King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is an absolute monarch, but above him there are international bodies, two of which are the United Nations and International Law. More importantly, king Abdullah has a conscience.

I still think that once they are apprised of the facts, king Abdullah and Saudi Arabia officials will not allow further torture and incarceration of Raif Badawi. I do not have the right to presume they will not be just and compassionate.

  • There is no absolute freedom of speech;
  • no one can be inhumane in the name of morality; and
  • there are cases when provocation can lead to a bloodbath.

In short, there are limits!

With my kindest regards to all of you.


Sources and Resources

Beethoven, Symphony no 7, 2nd movement
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Raif Badawi
Raif Badawi (Amnesty International)

© Micheline Walker
21 January 2015

“There are limits,” says Pope Francis


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The Old man and the Youth, painting by Reza-ye Abbasi (ca. 1565 – 1635) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

“There are limits…”

Pope Francis was in the Philippines recently and commented on the concept of freedom of expression. He said:

“‘There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits.’

He gestured to Alberto Gasparri, who organises papal trips and was standing by his side, and added: ‘If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.’

Cautioning against provocation he said the right to liberty of expression came with the obligation to speak for ‘the common good’.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis (The Guardian, UK)

Raif Badawi and “The Common Good”

Yes, there are limits to freedom of expression, but Raif Badawi respected these limits in that he spoke for “the common good” and did so “peacefully.” He is in fact an excellent example of what seems too repressive a judiciary in Saudi Arabia. According to Amnesty International, he is “detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression,” which makes him a prisoner of conscience.

Raif Badawi: a “Gratuitous, violent sentence”

Mr Badawi was originally sentenced to a seven-year term in prison and 600 lashes: flagellation. Upon appeal, he was condemned to a ten-year term in prison, a fine of approximately $266,000, and to nearly double the number of lashes: 1,000. Both the original and second sentences puzzle me.

If an appeal for clemency leads to a harsher sentence, one may have reason to believe that the harsher sentence is a “gratuitous, violent sentence,” as described by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) (See Raif Badawi, Wikipedia.) Furthermore, one is also led to suspect that the initial sentence was a “gratuitous, violent sentence.” I fail to see how Mr Badawi insulted Islam and, in this regard, the discrepancy between his two sentences may point to a wrongful conviction, not to mention vindictiveness.

Moreover, if flogging Mr Badawi on Friday 16 September could have imperiled his life, it would be my opinion that the remaining 950 lashes would have killed him. Torture is a violation of human rights, but in Mr Badawi’s case, it would appear that flagellation conceals a death sentence: death by flagellation, which is, in the extreme, a “gratuitous, violent sentence.” As I wrote in an earlier post, Raif Badawi was not sentenced to death. If torture leads to Mr Badawi’s death, justice will not have been served.

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi (Courtesy Amnesty International)

Mr  Badwani’s Case referred to the Supreme Court

However, given that Mr Badawi’s case has been referred to the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia, I should think that both his earlier sentences no longer have any validity and that the Supreme Court has a clean slate, i.e. the Cartesian, René Descartes‘  tabula rasa. (See Le Discours de la méthode, deuxième partie, the Discourse on the Method, second part.[1] The text can be read online in both the original French and in translation. See Sources and Resources.  


Pope Francis stated that “the right to liberty of expression came with the obligation to speak for ‘the common good’.”  All Mr Badawi advocated is more tolerance and leniency towards liberals in Saudi Arabia, which was a legitimate request. Remember La Fontaine‘s “The Oak and the Reed.” The sturdy and mighty oak is felled by a powerful storm, but the reed bends, and it does not break: “Je plie, et ne romps pas.”

I am confident that once the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia has reviewed Mr Badwani’s case, king Abdullah and Saudi officials will free him. King Abdullah’s status in the United Nations allows me to think that having been apprised of the facts, he will be “reasonable” and release Raif Badawi. I cannot presume otherwise.

It may be unrealistic, but I hope countries everywhere will soon live in harmony: no terrorists, no strikes, no warmongers…

There are limits!


Sources and Resources

The Discourse on Method, Internet Archive, Chapter 2, p. 15 (EN)
Le Discours de la méthode is a Gutenberg publication [EBook #13846] (FR)
The Discourse on Method is a Gutenberg publication [EBook #59] (EN)


[1] René Descartes, textes présentés par André Bridoux, Œuvres et Lettres (Gallimard, Bibliothèque de La Pléiade, 1953), p. 137.
tabula rasa means a table that has been cleared up


Painting by Reza-ye Abbasi (MMA, NY)

© Micheline Walker
19 January 2015

Raif Badawi: Flogging Postponed


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Photograph of Raif Badawi by his wife, Ensaf Haidar, for Amnesty on her husband's case.

Photograph of Raif Badawi by his wife Ensaf Haidar, for Amnesty International

Update in the case of Raif Badawi

This Friday’s scheduled flogging of Raif Badawi has been postponed for medical reasons.

On Wednesday, I had a conversation with a fine gentleman in the office of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Stephen Harper. I identified myself and was given time to tell Raif’s story. I provided the name of my weblog and was asked to spell it out. Posts are not exhaustive, but they can be a good starting-point. I was taken seriously. The gentleman with whom I spoke said that my message would be relayed to the Canadian Prime Minister, and it was.

I also phoned the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. I believe too many individuals were on the phone. I could not speak to anyone. However, someone in the Prime Minister’s office, probably the Prime Minister himself, phoned the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.

Ottawa’s Involvement

In yesterday’s newspaper, I read that John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs was taking action. He declared that the flogging of Raif Badawi was in violation of human dignity and freedom of expression (violation de la dignité humaine et de la liberté d’expression). As noted above, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia was also contacted. (See, La Tribune, 15 January 2015, p. 5.)

I presume other persons phoned the office of the Prime Minister. Alone, there is little I can do. One can sign an online petition. go to your country’s online:

Amnesty International.

Quebec’s Involvement

In Quebec, Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s Minister of International reactions, is doing all she can to help the Badawi family. The premier of Quebec, the Honourable Philippe Couillard, has spoken with madame Ensaf Haidar, Mr Badawi’ wife. Premier Couillard has stated that Quebec was ready to welcome Mr Badawi, if he is freed. Mr Badawi has a home in Canada.

Ensaf Hainar, Mr Badawi’s wife, talked with her husband. He is severely wounded and today’s scheduled flogging, 50 lashes, could have endangered her husband’s life. Mr Bawani is not a robust person.

I thank authorities in Saudi Arabia’s for this week’s reprieve.

This is not a Partisan Issue

Liberation of Mr Badawi is not a partisan issue. All Canadian Political Parties are involved in the struggle to spare Raif Badawi further torture and to bring him to Canada to join his family. The Liberal Party of Canada, led by Justin Trudeau, has entered the forum and so have members of the New Democratic Party, led by Thomas Mulcair, the official leader of the opposition. Sherbrooke’s representative in Ottawa, Pierre-Luc Dussault, a member of the New Democratic Party, is also acting on behalf of Mr Badawi.

Jesus' Name in Arabic

Jesus’ name in Arabic followed by Peace be upon him (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meeting between Turki al-Faisal and Mr Baird

Mr Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is scheduled to meet with prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia shortly. A meeting could take place as early as next week. Prince Turki al-Faisal is expected to visit Ottawa in February 2015.

Dr Nizar al-Madani, who is in charge of foreign affairs for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2nd after prince Turki al-Faisal, joined last Sunday’s march in Paris. Dr Madani’s participation could be interpreted as hypocritical. I have chosen to look upon Dr Nizar al-Madani’s participation in the march as an indication that Saudi Arabia will listen to pleas for clemency and will free Mr Badawi.

I do not wish to create false expectations. Canada does not have a strong voice. It is not a superpower. However, the matter may be resolved diplomatically and under international legislation. Torture is a violation of:

Please note that this statement is not an indictment of Saudi Arabia or any other country. I am one person, not an organization, asking that Mr Badawi, a fellow human being, be spared torture and possibly death. Throughout history, thousand of individuals have been the victims of extremism. I trust Saudi Arabia will free Mr Badawi.

My kindest regards to all of you.

Henry Purcell, Chaconne in G minor, Versailles Soloists

© Micheline Walker
15 January 2015

“Je suis Raif:” an Appeal to King Abdullah


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El Tres de mayo 1808, Francisco Goya, 1814 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Saudi Arabia has condemned last week’s Paris massacre, but it is authorizing the probable murder of Raif Badawi who ran a blog named: Free Saudi Liberals. Mr Badawi was originally sentenced to 7 years in prison and 600 lashes (2013). Following an appeal (2014), Mr Badawi’s sentence was increased to a 10-year prison term, a fine of approximately $266,000 and 1,000 lashes (flagellation) to be inflicted weekly for a period of 20 weeks. Mr Badawi is unlikely to survive.


According to Dr Marc Dauphin (Sherbrooke, Quebec), 1,000 lashes will probably kill Raif Badawi. An infection could set in or there could be some other medical problem leading to death. Raif Badawi was flogged last Friday, 9 January, and is scheduled to be flogged a second time on Friday 16, 2015. (Luc Larochelle, La Tribune, 13 January 2015, p. 2.) After a week, his wounds will still be fresh.

British military historian Sir Charles Oman wrote that:

“In the Napoleonic Wars, the maximum number of lashes that could be inflicted on soldiers in the British Army reached 1,200. This many lashes could permanently disable or kill a man.” (See Flagellation Wikipedia.)

Flagellation is torture, a violation of l’ONU/ the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also a violation of International Law. On that basis, torture should not be tolerated.

Moreover, if flogging Mr Badawi at the rate of 50 lashes over a 20-week period is likely to cause his death, his sentence is a miscarriage of justice.

Raif Badawi has not been sentenced to death, so his life should not be threatened by virtue of his sentence.

The Right to a Fair Trial

Why has Mr Badawi been sentenced to 10 years in jail, a very heavy fine and 1,000 lashes? I wonder if Mr Badawi spoke against Islam or against intolerance. If he spoke against intolerance and loses his life, was his trial a fair trial? First, free speech is protected under the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Second, under the same legislation, Mr Badawi has a right to a fair trial.

In a first trial, 2013, Mr Badawi was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment and 600 lashes. When he appealed, he received a harsher sentence. May I repeat that under l’ONU, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr Badawi has/ had a right to a fair trial.

“Je suis Raif”

Last week, people all over the world carried signs that read “Je suis Charlie.” The current slogan in Sherbrooke, Quebec and elsewhere is: “Je suis Raif” (I am Raif). Sherbrooke, Canada is mobilised and mobilisation is spreading. Protest must spread as quickly as possible so Mr Badawi is spared the flogging session scheduled for 16 January 2015. I hope he will be joining his wife and three children a few days from now. Protest is most effective when worded in polite language. There is no absolute free speech.

Mr Badawi is protected under l’ONU/ the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As noted above, torture is also prohibited by International Law.


I would prefer to ask that Mr Badawi be freed because he is a fellow human being. Twenty human lives were taken in Paris last week. Those lives were precious and so is Mr Badawi’s. To his wife and children, he is everything. In both cases, Paris and Jedda, the crime was speaking out: legitimate freedom of speech was attacked.


Sources and Resources

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
La Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme

Francisco Goya

In the video inserted below, we see the paintings and prints by Francisco Goya (1746–1828). According to a French video, a news cast, Goya was the first photo-journalist. He could also be described as one of many generations of war artists. He “covered” the atrocities committed in Spain by Napoléon’s grande armée. There is a more relevant video, but I can’t locate it.

Goya had been painting portraits (retratos) of members of ruling families. But at the age of 63, he started to paint and engrave Los Desastres de la Guerra (the Disasters of War).

Goya painted Las Meninas, a mise en abyme.

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.”
El Sueño de la razón produce monstrous.”
“Le Sommeil de la raison produit des monstres.”

The flogging of Raif Badawi can be stopped. We cannot use language to defame, libel, incite to violence, etc. But free speech is otherwise a human right. (See Freedom of Speech, Wikipedia). Someone should speak to King Abdullah. He is a human being and, in theory, endowed with reason.

No, I did not see any video on Francisco Goya before choosing the image featured at the top of my last post, 12 January 2015, and the top of this post. It’s a coincidence.


Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya, from Los Caprichos (Photo credit: WikiArt)

© Micheline Walker
14 January 2015

Paris Besieged: an “Assault on Reason”


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Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya, El sueño de la razón produce monstruos (The Sleep of Reason produces monsters), 1799, print N°43 of the Caprichos series (Museo nacional del Prado, Madrid). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am using the above image for the third time, by choice. I cannot find a better picture than Goya’s 43rd print in his series of 80 prints entitled Los Caprichos. It is a fine illustration of what happened this past week in Paris and Jeddah.

A Tale of Two Cities

—Paris and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)

It seems a tale of two cities.

This past week, Paris was besieged by Islamic extremists. Twenty persons are dead. The weekly Charlie Hebdo lost essential members of its staff. The paper will publish a survivors’ issue, a million copies, but it could be the last issue. Whatever the fate of Charlie Hebdo, the attack will remain an indelible page in the history of France.

But on 9 January 2015, two days after the Paris tragedy, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, former blogger Raif, or Raïf, Bawani was flogged publicly for having expressed, in his blog, a wish for more religious tolerance and individual freedom. Mr Bawani’s wife and three children are now living in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The massacre in Paris is by far the greater tragedy, but Mr Bawani’s family are refugees in Canada who live in my community.

“Je suis Charlie”

— I am Charlie; Dammartin-en Goële; and the Hyper Cacher

However, let us first look at the killings that shocked France and turned millions of individuals around the world into Charlie: Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie.)

Extremists Chérif and Saïd Kouachi first killed 12 persons in Paris. They got away temporarily and hid in a printing business, at Dammartin-en-Goële. Lilian Lepère, a 27-year-old graphic designer, was ordered to hide by the owner of the printing business, Michel Catalano.

However, hidden in a cardboard box under a sink, Lilian was texting information to the police and continued doing so after Michel Catalano left the building. Chérif and Saïd Kouachi were shot by the police at Dammartin-en-Goële. The police drove an armoured car into the building to free Lilian, still hiding in his cardboard box.

Meanwhile, in Vincennes, Amédy Coulibaly entered a kosher grocery store, the Hyper Cacher, took hostages, and killed four men, all Jewish, before the police could storm the grocery store. Amédy Coulibaly was killed.

The Flag of Jihad

The Flag of Jihad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Extremism numbing “Reason”

It was a 54-hour ordeal the French will not forget. Their and our revered “liberty” had been attacked and innocent lives taken from the centre of Paris to Vincennes, just east of Paris. The French took to the streets holding up signs bearing a powerful slogan: Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie). The French were identifying with the victims. But suddenly, the slogan was repeated around the world. It was very cold in Quebec, but everywhere people were standing vigil. The world had been mobilised and there cannot be a greater indictment of extremism.

Extremists cannot think beyond a built-in ideology, which means that they cannot think. I heard the Kouachi brothers say that they were not killers, that the killers were the French and others who kill people in the Middle East. This is a quotation and a translation. Therefore, it is not a word for word quotation, but it is mostly accurate and it reveals that extremists and all haters cannot use reason. These men could not see the harm they had inflicted.

I don’t like the drone strikes, but according to the Canadian military, they are mostly targeted. However, it would be my opinion that the enemy is no longer an “ugly” American. It is extremism carried to the point of fanaticism and murder. Extremists are of one mind, a mind that numbs the mind and conscience. Consequently, the Paris killers are very poor candidates for martyrdom. Their status is the same as “Jihadi John,” or “Jailer John” who is “presumed” to have beheaded James Foley (19 August 2014), Steven Sotlov (2 September 2014), David Haines (13 September 2014), and Alan Henning (3 October 2014). Jihadi John is a cold-blooded assassin who makes his victims blame their country of origin: the US, Great Britain, and now: France, a symbol of liberty.

Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris, but the terrorists could have been the Taliban or IS. The United Nations has not defined “racism” per se, but it has defined racial discrimination, and it seems we are looking at naked “racial discrimination.”

The United Nations use the definition of racial discrimination laid out in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted in 1966: any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” (Part 1 of Article 1 of the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. (See Racism, Wikipedia)

“Je suis Raif ”

— I am Raif

Last week, the wife of Raif Badawi, 31, was living a nightmare she could not share with her children. She was hoping her husband would be spared part of his ten-year sentence. He was to be flogged beginning 9 January 2015, and he was flogged.

As I wrote above, events in Paris dwarf Raif Badawi’s demise. He is a Muslim who had a weblog and, as I wrote above, advocated greater religious and personal freedom. He was arrested in 2012 on the grounds that he had insulted Islam and was sentenced to a ten-year term in jail, a fine of $266,000, and was to be flogged publicly 1,000 times, 50 blows at a time for a period of 20 weeks. The first whipping session took place on Friday, 9 January, and the second is scheduled for next Friday. So people were outdoors in the bitter cold holding up signs with the slogan: “Je suis Raif.”

What is Bashar al-Assad doing?


There are cultural differences between certain countries of the Middle East and the rest of the world, but these should stop where inhumanity begins. The events of the past week, cold-blooded killings in Paris and flogging in Jeddah are the epitome of what Al Gore called an “assault on reason.”

“El sueño de la razón produce monstruos”

My computer seems to be dying. The screen is grey. It was repaired, but to no avail. I hope this post will be published. I started writing it on 8 January.

My kindest regards to all of you.


Philippe Jarousski, countertenor, sings Henry Purcell‘s “O let me weep,” from The  Fairy-Queen

Tombeau du chanoine Luc Gillain, cathédrale d'Amiens

The Weeping Angel of Amiens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
10 January 2015

Posts on the Mass as a Musical Form


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Decorated Incipit (the beginning words) page to the Gospel of Matthew, 1120–1140 (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mass

Musicologists study liturgical music. Lay music has existed for a long time. There have been troubadours, trouvères and minnesinger who wrote and sang humble songs. However, the development of polyphony, intertwined voices, was achieved by the composers of madrigals and sacred music. These compositions are the birthplace of harmony and counterpoint.

The Mass, or Eucharist, is the “central act of worship” (see Mass, Wikipedia) in the Catholic Church. But Monks living in monasteries also observe the Canonical Hours as determined in the Rule of Benedict, which has now been used for 1,500 years.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), convened by Pope John XXIII, introduced the use of the vernacular in Mass, formerly said in Latin. Benedictines, the order founded by Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – 543 or 547 CE), were not affected by this change. It was decided that they would continue to use the Liber Usualis, a book of Latin-language Gregorian chant, compiled by the monks of the Abbey of Solesmes, France, during the 19th century.

Monks celebrate Mass, but they also observe the liturgy of the Hours, called Canonical Hours, or the Divine Office. (See Canonical Hours or the Divine Office in RELATED ARTICLES.)

The Ordinary and the Proper

Mass has components used every day. These constitute the “ordinary” of the Mass. Masses, however, may also include the “proper,” components added on special days or occasions, such as a Requiem Mass, a Mass for the Dead.



Yesterday was Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas. Epiphany commemorates the visit in Bethlehem of the kings of Orient.


The above posts were updated, but the links do not always lead to the correct site. Would that links did not disappear. Videos are sometimes removed, but links should remain.

There is a degree of repetition in the above-listed posts. I try to write my posts as though no one had read former posts on the same subject and therefore repeat what was said earlier.

Wishing all of you a fine weekend.

Agnus Dei, by Samuel Barber


Medieval Agnus Dei, Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia.

Best Wishes for the New Year


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I am using this light-hearted “pochoir” to wish my faithful readers a very Happy New Year.

Remembering 4 November 2008

Let us hope 2015 will be a better year. There were sad events in 2014: terrorism, racism…  Moreover, on 4 November 2014, money made room in Congress for Republican candidates who may not otherwise have been elected into office. Money should not buy aspiring politicians a seat in Congress or, in the case of Canada, a seat in Parliament.

The date I want to remember is 4 November 2008. On that day, Americans elected to the presidency of the United States an exceptionally gifted and accomplished gentleman who cares for his people and has earned considerable respect for his country wherever he has travelled.


You have become very dear to me so I hope health issues will not prevent me from reading your posts and writing mine in 2015.



Marian Hymnology

The Alma Mater Redemptoris is the Marian Antiphon of the season. I have therefore inserted a lovely interpretation of Palestrina’s Alma Mater Redemptoris at the foot of this post. On 2 February 2015, formerly Candlemas but now groundhog day, we will switch to the second of four Marian antiphons, the Ave Regina Cælorum.



Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 2 February 1594) (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir)

Madonna, Raphael

© Micheline Walker
1 January 2015


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