The message the brother and sister read aloud is one addressed to a missing father: 9-year-old Najwa and 8-year-old Tirad reciting the words in unison, “Our mother’s starting to worry about you.”
Their mom, Ensaf Haidar, is indeed worried, but she’s also pained. She knows how much her children yearn to see their dad, but she just doesn’t know what to tell them.
How can she begin to explain that their dad has languished in a Saudi prison for almost a year? How can she expose her kids to a brutal reality she feels they’re not ready to face?
“They’re always asking me, ‘When is Dad coming home?’ ” Haidar said. “Telling me, ‘Mom, I miss Dad so much.’ “
Dad however is in a Saudi prison and now facing a death sentence for crimes against Sharia Islamic law. You know, the thing that American liberals keep insisting is a good thing and oppose banning in the United States.
Her three children, including 5-year-old Myriam, think their father’s just delayed by work. But Raif Badawi, 30, has been imprisoned since being arrested in June. He is accused of, among other things, breaking Sharia law and starting a website that infringed on religious values.
According to Haidar, her husband just wanted to encourage discussion about religion in his homeland. But starting a liberal Internet forum in conservative Saudi Arabia can be a dangerous pursuit.
So what did Raif Badawi actually say? Good question.
He was arrested on 17 June 2012 in Jeddah after organising a conference to mark a “day of liberalism”.
Badawi appeared before the district court in Jeddah charged with “setting up a website that undermines general security”, “ridiculing Islamic religious figures” and “going beyond the realm of obedience”.
Insulting Islam, speaking ill of Saudi Arabia’s religious police and, most puzzling of all, “parental disobedience.”
The offending articles on his website included one about Valentine’s Day (celebration of which is banned in the kingdom) and another suggesting that al-Imam Mohamed ibn Saud University had become “a den for terrorists”
One article, which mocked the kingdom’s religious police, ended sarcastically with the words: “Congratulations to us for the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue for teaching us virtue and for its eagerness to ensure that all members of the Saudi public are among the people of paradise.”
For these wicked crimes, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison. But now the threat of a death sentence is back.
A judge in Saudi Arabia has recommended that imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi go before a high court on a charge of apostasy, which would carry the death penalty upon conviction, according to Badawi’s wife.
With all that, you have to wonder why American liberals seem so eager to turn this country into Saudi Arabia by defending Islamic law.