For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
January 12, 2016
The Center for Inquiry has learned that Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi has been arrested for allegedly operating the Twitter account of her husband, jailed human rights attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair. Ms. Badawi is also the sister of jailed dissident Raif Badawi, and Mr. al-Khair was Mr. Badawi’s lawyer before he himself was jailed.
The Center for Inquiry emphatically demands that Saudi Arabia immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Badawi, and drop any charges brought against her. Samar is a valued ally and friend of the Center for Inquiry. CFI has worked closely with her to promote freedom of thought and expression in Saudi Arabia, and to fight for the release of her husband and brother.
We also call upon the U.S. State Department to bring to bear what diplomatic power they have to press Saudi Arabia to release Samar. In 2012, the State Department honored Ms. Badawi with the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, bestowed upon her by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I have worked personally with Samar, and she is one of the most impressive, courageous, and devoted activists I have ever met,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s main representative to the United Nations, who met Ms. Badawi at the UN Human Rights Council in September 2014 when CFI spoke out behalf of her husband. “She is a shining example of the kind of meaningful impact an individual can have, despite incredible odds and unthinkable oppression. Her detention now speaks to how desperate and inhuman Saudi Arabia has become to intimidate, silence, and punish critics.”
“When Secretary Clinton presented Samar with the Women of Courage award, she told her, ‘You are making a difference, and we thank you for that,” noted De Dora. “The State Department can best thank her, right now, by doing all they can to secure her freedom and safety, and Secretary Clinton and First Lady Obama should use their platforms as globally admired figures to rally the world to this cause.”
The fight for free expression around the world is a primary focus of CFI’s advocacy efforts. In 2015, CFI launched the Freethought Emergency Fund to assist secular activists in Bangladesh and elsewhere who have been targeted for murder by radical Islamic groups. In 2012, CFI launched the Campaign for Free Expression to rally support for those who face persecution for blasphemy, apostasy, or other forms of religious or political dissent. Find out more at centerforinquiry.net/cfe
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.