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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Raif Badawi


Detained: June 17, 2012. 

Charges: Violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought.

Sentence: Ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million riyals (equal to about $266,000), and is banned from any media work or foreign travel for 10 years after his release from prison.
**Note: The sentence durations listed are according to the Hijri (Islamic Lunar) Calendar used by Saudi Arabia rather than the Gregorian Calendar.

Biography: Raif Badawi is the founder and editor of the Free Saudi Liberals website which encourages religious and political debate.  In June 2012 he was arrested in Jeddah and charged with apostasy, “insulting Islam through electronic channels,” and “parental disobedience.”  In January 2013, a Saudi court decided not to pursue the apostasy charge, which carries the death penalty in the Kingdom.  On July 29, 2013 Badawi was sentenced by the court to 600 lashes, seven years in prison and his website was ordered closed.  Badawi received five years for insulting Islam and violating provisions of Saudi Arabia’s 2007 anti-cybercrime law through his liberal website, affirming that liberalism is akin to unbelief; two years for insulting both Islam and the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), or religious police, in comments during television interviews; and three months for “parental disobedience,” apparently because of Badawi’s numerous public confrontations with his father over the years.  Badawi had appealed his original 2013 conviction and on May 8, 2014 after the retrial was ordered, was given a new sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes by a Saudi court for insulting Islam.
Badawi was named the 2015 Laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.


Advocate: Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)

Advocacy Partner: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom