Labour MEP Pushes For More Action In Support Of Raif Badawi
An East Midlands MEP has expressed her concern over the continued detention of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi after he was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison followed by a 10 year travel ban. He has already suffered torture at the hands of Saudi authorities despite calls from across Europe and the world for his release.
A 15-week international campaign for his release called #Backlash has just begun which aims to spread awareness of Raif’s abuse and put pressure on the Saudi government to respect free speech and release him.
Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:
“Earlier this year I joined with fellow MEPs and wrote to the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, asking her to do everything she can to push the Saudi government to release Raif and commit to human rights. I welcome the fact that she has done this at every opportunity and I hope the EU will continue to do what it can to secure Raif’s freedom.
“Shockingly, Raif’s life is still in danger as he could be retried and sentenced to death. We need to collectively put as much pressure on the Saudi authorities as possible to push for freedom of speech and religion.”
Raif was charged with so-called ‘apostasy’ for speaking out against the strict religious dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. He already suffered 50 lashes in January and is still set to receive 950 more over 19 weeks despite doctors ruling that he could not endure any more abuse.
Labour MEPs recently met with Raif’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, during her visit to Brussels and committed to making sure the EU and national governments to put human rights at the centre of their relations with Saudi Arabia.
Glenis Willmott MEP added:
“I am joining the #Backlash campaign because we can’t afford for people to forget the suffering Raif and countless others in autocratic countries face just for speaking out.
“I want to reassure my constituents and everyone who is concerned for Raif that my fellow Labour MEPs and I will continue to push for his release whenever we can. Free speech is a vital human right and we must always defend it from being stifled.”