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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