Another year gone and the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is still in prison. On 17 june he will have spent six years as a prisoner. So far our hopes have been disappointed, that the ongoing reforms in Saudi-Arabia reach out to the prison of Dhaban where not only Raif Badawi but as well his attorney and brother in law, Waleed Abu al-Khair serve their long and harsh prison terms.
No doubt, any step away from the restrictions that so long have hemmed in the lives of the people and most especially the women in Saudi-Arabia is an overdue relief and welcome. Another encouraging step certainly was the restrictions for the ever vigiliant and waspish religious police. On the other hand, it is galling, that while many of Raif Badawi’s demands are being fulfilled step by tiny step, their author still remains isolated behind bars.
From far away and out of Saudi-Arabia I keep wondering, what we can do to remind those in charge of Raif Badawi’s fate that neither locking him up nor a shift of general attention to other truly pressing matters will make us forget that brave blogger. Last year I suggested a postcard-whirlwind in Saudi-Arabia’s embassy-mail-boxes (and nothing’s wrong with despatching the odd postcard again). But perhaps this year we may mark the date of Raif Badawi’s 6 year long imprisonment with a virtual rally. As most of us cannot show up at the gates of the sprawing compound of the Dhabhan Central Prison I would like to propose the following:
Let us us come together as Raif Badawi’s supporters by posting pictures of ourselves and whipping up a twitter-storm by using the hashtag #IstandwithRaif. If you are better at this than me (and that is easily accomplished since I am hopeless when it comes to selfies or touching up photos), by all means adorn these picures. But on the other hand I think a simple but clear message can be just as meaningful as any photoshop-extravaganza.
So, let us meet on twitter on 17 june and stand up for Raif Badawi!