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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