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Alyn hails strong MEP support for jailed blogger Raif Badawi

Saudi Arabia urged to immediately release all prisoners of conscience.

Alyn Smith, SNP member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, has pressed yesterday (Thursday) for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and other online activists imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and hailed strong MEP support, unusual from an institution usually much more muted in any criticism of Saudi Arabia.

The fate of the Saudi blogger has caused a storm of indignation across the world and led to a decisive action from the European Parliament, which passed a resolution strongly condemning the flogging of Badawi as a cruel and shocking act.

Speaking after the debate Alyn said:

“The flogging of Raif Badawi is a vicious act of brutality which is prohibited under international law and it’s only right that this house stands united against acts of cruelty committed by the Saudi authorities.

“We must also remember that this is not the first time Saudi Arabia demonstrated an abhorrent disregard for the most basic human rights principles. Raif Badawi is emblematic and that’s precisely the point, he’s important because the Saudi authorities chose to make him important, they chose to make example of him and it’s right that we should react to his plight but there are thousands of others and this resolution is for all of them. 

“Our values oblige us to be truthful and to be vocal about the systematic deliberate and widespread human rights abuses going on within that country. We therefore should reconsider our relationship with Saudi Arabia and demand that core human rights commitments are adhered to by all our partners.”

Programme Director of Amnesty International Scotland, Siobhan Reardon, said:

 "We very much welcome the European Parliament's condemnation of the treatment of Raif Badawi at the hands of the Saudi Arabian authorities, which is nothing short of a vicious act of cruelty.  He is a prisoner of conscience who is guilty of nothing more than daring to promote peaceful and democratic discussion. The authorities must overturn his conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally.

“The case of Raif Badawi is emblematic of the brutal crackdown by a government determined to crush all forms of dissent through every means at their disposal, including imposing harsh prison sentences and corporal punishment on activists. 

“Despite an international outcry Raif Badawi is at risk as long as he remains imprisoned, and could be lashed tomorrow. Over a million people, world-wide, have called on the Saudi authorities to call off the flogging and release Mr Badawi."