Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Free Speech Update: Saudi Arabia Detains Samar Badawi

Samar Badawi*, the sister of Raif Badawi and wife of jailed human rights attorney Waleed Abulkhair, as well as a human rights activist in her own right has been arrested, although the reason why as yet is not clear. It's not clear if she's being charged with anything, or just being questioned (or harassed).

It looks like another case of Saudi Arabia's ham-handed approach to freedom of speech (they really can't hide how much they are against it). The recent execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric critical of the royal family, along with 46 others, displays the degree to which the regime doesn't seem to distinguish the difference between terrorism and contrary opinions--and if they anticipated that this would have a dampening effect on criticism of the House of Saud, they were quite wrong. (Unless they really wanted to antagonize Shias living in Saudi Arabia as well as Iran--Middle Eastern politics gets awfully deep for me. In which case--they got their outrage.)

I've been saying this sort of thing strikes me as a symptom of deeper problems that Saudi Arabia has. Samar Badawi and her family should not have to pay with their safety, health and lives for SA's own insecurities.

(*As a feminist, I didn't want to have to introduce Badawi primarily in relation to her male relatives, but as her brother's flogging and imprisonment are more recent, I have to assume my readers are more familiar with him. The above picture is Samar Badawi receiving a Woman of Courage Award from Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.)

UPDATE: She was released, but the possibility of charges remains.

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