After Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was arrested and sentenced to prison and 1,000 lashes, Ensaf Haidar wondered what to say when the person you love tells you that hes going to be abused in the most horrible way
Ensaf Haidar fled to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 2014 after her husband Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam through electronic channels. Here, in an excerpt from her new book, Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom: My Husband, Our Story (Other Press), she describes learning that his sentence would begin, and how she told her children of their fathers fate.
The new year began with an act of violence. On 7 January 2015, two masked men stormed the editorial offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and shot 11 journalists.
The next day, I spoke to Raif. I had spoken to him from prison several times before but will never forget that call as long as I live. Have you heard about the attack in Paris? I asked him. No. Raif clearly had something else on his mind. Ensaf, I need to tell you something. Will you promise me that youll be brave and not tell the children? Yes, of course. I sat down on a kitchen chair.
I nervously fumbled a cigarette from the pack in front of me. Tomorrow theyre going to start enforcing my sentence. One of the prison warders told me. It took me a moment to understand what he was telling me. Yes, Ensaf. The first 50 lashes. Ill get them in front of the big mosque in Jeddah.