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DW honors sacrifice in the name of free speech

Out of all the recent sacrifices made in the name of freedom of speech, the tribulations of the Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi poignantly exemplify the precarious condition of free speech in some parts of the world today. This year Badawi is the recipient of the first DW Freedom of Speech Award, which is being presented by DW in conjunction with “The Bobs- Best of Online Activism” awards.

Badawi was arrested in 2012 and charged with insulting Islam through electronic channels via his website, Free Saudi Liberals, which provided a public forum for social criticism in Saudi Arabia.  In May 2014 Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes to be carried out 50 at a time for 20 weeks. He was publically flogged 50 times in January. It is feared that he will die if subjected to the full extent of his sentence.

With this award, DW is actively taking part in the international protest against the treatment Badawi is receiving simply for publicizing his opinion. Amnesty International  has started a campaign calling for his immediate release. On social media , supporters have gathered around the hashtag , #iamraif. A group of academics and social activists from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom even offered to each take 100 of the lashes that would have been administered to Badawi rather than “stand by and watch him be cruelly tortured.”

Badawi will be regognized by DW at The Bobs awards ceremony during the 2015 Global Media Forum in Bonn on June 23.


2015-02-26 | 8:12