Human Rights

Prisoners of Conscience


Turki Al-Hamad, Hamza Kashgari  and  Raef Badawi

These are just a few names of people, most of us have probably never heard of. Not enough to prompt an immediate, heightened emotional response anywhere near comparable to what uttering the name Phil Robertson would anyhow.

Allow me to steal the unadulterated spot light of (freedom of speech) from the Duck Dynasty reality star and shine it on these 3 people who are deserving of some much needed attention.

I won’t discuss the Phil Robertson issue here. Frankly, I am sick of it because of the skewed views of people who know very little about the many who face first hand persecution because they chose to do exactly that. Speak with Freedom…not with hate and not with judgement.

Lets start with Turki Al-Hamad;  

Nationality: Saudi

Work: Political analyst, journalist, and novelist (famous for writing about the Saudi forbidden trilogy: Sex, religion and politics.) Note: All his books are banned in Saudi.

Offence: This tweet (@TurkiAlHamad: Our Prophet has come to rectify the faith of Abraham, and now is a time when we need someone to rectify the faith of Mohammed.) For which he was arrested in December 2012, detained for 5 months without trial then released.

Country of residence: Saudi Arabia

Up next, Hamza Kashgari:

Nationality: Saudi

Work: Writer and newspaper columnist in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Offence: In February 2011 he tweeted a run of comments reverberating meditatively on the human side of the Prophet, imagining a conversation between them both. Kashgari then fled Saudi Arabia in an attempt to escape death threats he received after his “blasphemous” Tweets.

Though he removed his posts and apologized for his lapse in judgement, the Saudi government issued an arrest warrant, and a fatwa calling for his prosecution. This resonated with the Islamic country of Malaysia where he was apprehended.

On February 9th 2012, Kashgari was deported from Malaysia and returned to Saudi where he was detained for almost two years without a trial.

The Tweets:

  • On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.
  • On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.
  • On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.

Country of Residence: Saudi

Last but not least: Raef Badawi:

Nationality: You guessed it! Saudi

Work: Blogger and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals.

Offence: Insulting Islam through his liberal website by hosting material criticizing “senior religious figures”. This charge has been morphed into a blasphemy charge and is being bounced through courts left, right and center for over 2 years now. On July 30, 2013 he was handed down a sentence of 7 years plus 600 lashes for violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought.

His website was shut down and if that isn’t bad enough on December 26, 2013 Badawi’s wife told CNN that a judge had recommended him to go before a high court for the apostasy charge which if found guilty, would very likely result in the death penalty .

Country of imprisonment: Saudi


Other names worthy of your time and research include but are not limited to:  Mohammed al-Bejadi, who is serving a four-year sentence in Riyadh for the charge of “setting up a human rights organization”. Wajeha Al-Huwaider, fawzia al-oyouni…among many others and I haven’t even left the borders of Saudi yet.

So while over 100,000 people are going apeshit over some reality T.V personality who was banned from a private show for spewing out hate and ignorance, there are others who suffer worse consequences than being banned from T.V for doing and saying far less.

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