Raif Badawi and Blasphemy – The Only Victim Are The Guilty


Raif Badawi has had his ten year sentence and 1,000 lashes upheld by the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court. For the last few weeks and months we have waited every single Friday to see if the remaining 950 lashes will be administered. His physical health after the first 50 has stayed the punishment. He needs to live to receive the remainder of his sentence. This is what mercy means in Saudi Arabia.

His wife stated after the ruling: “The flogging will start again and no one cares,” she added. Asked what could be done now to fight for her husband’s cause, she said: “Really, I don’t know.”

I read with interest the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Statesman article last week on blasphemy. There were no names of those suffering for the crime. No one was championed as someone we should all support. Rather, believers needed to recognise how their strength could be strengthened by criticism. While secularists should take into account the profound feelings of the faithful.

The secularist needs to understand some of the internal critique that faith is always struggling with; and the believer needs to recognise that blasphemy isn’t necessarily a matter for panic, let alone violence. It may even be a gateway into a larger and more durable commitment. 

This will not do, as we casually state how appalling the Charlie Hebdo murders and secular bloggers killed in Bangladesh were. Flesh and blood are being tortured for the belief that blasphemy is a crime. People are being killed by religious fanatics, the living threatened with death. The real struggle Rev Williams, for too many, is not being killed by the faithful. 

The real lesson for us all on blasphemy is to speak out against such laws, speak out for those punished, threatened and massacred. It is also time we rethought whether Saudi Arabia is an ally or the enemy of humanity. Protestations since 2012 have been to no avail for Raif Badawi. 

The struggle I care about is to set him, and all those that would dare to think and speak their mind, free.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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Email: JSargeant78@gmail.com

Update: regrettably I did write Iranian Supreme Court – though that was corrected soon after publishing it still shows when tweeted.

The moral of this story is never proof read when cooking a Sunday Roast. 



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2 responses to “Raif Badawi and Blasphemy – The Only Victim Are The Guilty

  1. Rowan Williams…sigh.
    It appears, through his long words that overall he sees the problem with blasphemy, eg, a book, film, picture, cartoon, TV documentary, etc – and we “need” to understand this. A slight nod towards the “solution” being, don’t produce those things in the first place (an MCB-type solution). But nobody knows where the next “offence taken” is coming from. It could be anything, if it goes too far.

    Nobody, but nobody, has asked religious leaders (let’s face it, we are talking Islam at the moment), whether they can dispense with that absolute fervency, perhaps over time. Nobody has asked where it comes from. Childhood indoctrination from family, school, mosques, imams, etc?
    At what point does a person gain that fervency?

    Can *this* be looked upon as the problem, rather than shutting down freedoms? Would anyone, eg imams in mosques, be willing to preach against that fervency, or is it an important cog in the wheel of the religion in order to defend it, and control those within it? And therefore, they would have no intention of suppressing it.

    “Sorry folks, you’re stuck with it, so you might have to think twice about that book, film, picture, documentary, etc, etc”

    • You are right part of the struggle is holding the line here, but working out how universal rights become universally accepted as an intrinsic good. As such, our part is holding true to such values and being consistent in them.

      Which is where counter extremist measures concern me. If we are hypocritical about the speech we censor (holocaust, political Islamists) then we will not convince anyone we mean what we say.

      Of blasphemy gets used too easily as a means of vendetta on political opponents the impetus for change may finally happen. I fear it will be from the top up this happens.

      Reason political pressure from abroad is crucial.

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