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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. Premier Couillard’s 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, which was 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