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Give the Nobel Peace Prize to Raif Badawi!

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Honourable members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,

We, hereby signed, are asking you to seriously consider giving the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia.

The award of Noble Peace Prize to individuals such us Tawakkul Karman and recently to Malala Yousafzai is a clear sign that the Committee recognizes the contribution of these and other brave individuals who question regimes, expose their taboos and rise the fundamental question of human rights in the Muslim world. Mr. Raif Badawi is yet another of these brave individuals who peacefully challenged one of the most restrictive cultures in the modern world.

Mr. Raif Badawi, a writer, a blogger, human right activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals was recently imprisoned following a sentence of 10 years of incarceration and 1000 lashes for one of the so called “thought crimes”, namely blasphemy. Part of the corporal punishment has already been carried out despite appeals and strong condemnation from the international community. But what was that Mr. Raif Badawi actually had written that resulted with such harsh response from Saudi authorities? In his writings Mr. Raif Badawi was not only questioning and challenging religious doctrines but also embracing free and critical thought, freedom of thought, secularism, freedom of expression and ultimately the free speech. He was encouraging discussion on many cultural and religious practices seen these days not only in Saudi Arabia but in Muslim world generally. Mr. Raif Badawi in his own words remarked that freedom of thought is supressed in the Muslim world:

"As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I'm really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities."

and more:

"Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone ... Secularism ... is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world."

Deeper insight into the writings of Raif Badawi can be seen here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/-sp-saudi-blogger-extracts-raif-badawi

And here in original Arabic language:
http://www.aafaq.org/forums.aspx?id_for=208

Many consider Mr. Badawi a figure that could be described best as Arabic Voltaire of our days. In their letter, passed to The Independent, 18 Nobel Laureates urge their Saudi peers to be “heard arguing for the freedom to dissent” by standing up for Mr. Badawi, whose case they say has “sent a shock around the world”.

Mr. Raif Badawi, in his brave public advocacy of freedom of thought in Saudi Arabia was a beacon of light for these who craved more liberties in one of the last functioning theocracies in the modern world. His sacrifice, his commitment should be recognized and embraced. If the people of the Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the Muslim world in general are to move beyond national, racial and religious boundaries it is by the means of open discussion and exchange of ideas as advocated by Mr. Raif Badawi.

Challenging the suppression of free thought, speech and expression in a peaceful manner and advocating for others to have the same right is brave thing to do in place like Saudi Arabia where punishment for the above can be one’s life. Therefore, we argue that Mr. Raif Badawi is worthy candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Many dissidents have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize to date but the Muslim world remains grossly underrepresented despite serious violations of human rights in many Muslim countries.



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