Saudi Arabia: is jailed Saudi dissident Raid Badawi alive?

Italian MP calls on EU to mobilize, 7,000 signatures gathered

03 January, 19:05

(ANSAmed) - RIYADH, JANUARY 3 - Saudi dissident editor Raif Badawi is in imminent danger of execution and may already have lost his life, Italian People of Freedom (PdL) Party MP Souad Sbai told reporters on Thursday. ''His relatives and friends are in anguish, because they have not heard from him for days. The fear is that he has been silenced for good,'' said Sbai, calling on the European Union, which recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, to mobilize against the ''extremely grave human rights violations'' taking place not far from its borders.

Badawi, editor of Saudi Liberals website, was arrested in June, according to Human Rights Watch. ''Almaghrebiya.it daily was the first to report the news of his arrest, and has collected 7,000 signatures so far to free Raif and save him from certain death,'' Sbai said. ''Silence is the death of any hope of salvation for dissidents. So I have written to EU Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muinieks.'' Badawi was arrested for allegedly insulting Islam on his website, ''threatening general security'' and ridiculing the religious police in his articles, one of which was published on Saint Valentine's Day, which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Badawi also allegedly refused to remove articles written by others from his website. The charges were changed on December 17 to apostasy, which is a capital crime in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International has also called for the liberation of Badawi, saying he is a prisoner of conscience who was arrested and put on trial solely for making an online social and political debate possible.

Another Saudi dissident intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, has been incarcerated since December 24 on charges of insulting the Prophet Mohammed because of a tweet in which he suggested Islam might need reform.

One of the world's major oil exporters, Saudi Arabia is among the West's allies on many issues. Its dominant religion is Wahabism, a fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam. (ANSAmed).

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