Sunday 11 December 2016

'Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom, My Husband, Our Story' review: 'A moving, compelling read'

Ensaf Haidar and Andrea C Hoffman, Little Brown, €18.99

Published 16/05/2016 | 15:42

Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom, My Husband, Our Story
Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom, My Husband, Our Story

Raif Badawi is a 32-year-old Saudi Arabian writer and activist who was arrested in 2012 on a charge of "insulting Islam through electronic channels".

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He has been incarcerated in a Jeddah jail since 2013.  Besides his liberty being taken from him, he was sentenced to 1,000 lashes to be carried out over 20 weeks.  His crime was to create a website, 'Free Saudi Liberals'.  The penalty for his 'apostasy' is immediate death.

The lashes have recently stalled due to his ill-health.

The book is a moving account by his wife, Ensaf Haidar, about their meeting as love-struck 18-year-olds, in violation of every moral precept in the strictly Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Little did they know that, after marriage and three children, her love for Raif would attract the attention of global politicians as she mobilises international support to save her husband from murder at the hands of the Saudi judiciary.

In 2013, Ensaf and her children were granted asylum in Quebec, Canada. From there, her determination and desperation continues to bring pressure to bear on her native country and its regime.

Her story of passion and pain is a very current, global issue.  Raif's young family are in danger of losing a husband and father, who only sought freedom of expression.  We, as readers, writers, bloggers, tweeters, broadcasters have a bounteous freedom of expression.  A compelling read.

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