EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK – THE VOICE OF FREEDOM – THE GUARDIAN – 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 he’s 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 father’s 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 you’ll be brave – and not tell the children?” “Yes, of course.” I sat down on a kitchen chair.