Raif Badawi, ten years later

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2012. In addition, he will be prohibited from leaving the territory for another ten years. Have we adequately supported and defended it?

His ordeal, that of his wife and their children, then began in 2012 and it will most likely end this week.

The weapon of Raïf Badawi’s crimes was neither the sword, nor the rifle, nor bomblets. It was his pen. The blogger campaigned in particular for a more modern Saudi Arabia, for respect for minorities, for religious pluralism and the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel.

From our perspective, his cause was just and noble. But the Saudi kingdom did not read it the same way. It was in vain that the West demanded his release.

antinomy of values

Here we are ten years after his imprisonment. On the eve of a long-awaited release. Also, it seems appropriate to me to question the paths taken to support him and demand his release.

Looking back, I feel today that our condescending and aggressive postures probably did not help his early release…

The Western world is not Middle Eastern. And conversely, the Middle Eastern world is not Western. No one should attempt to impose their culture or values ​​on other nations…

However, from our hegemonic cultural base, we have often tried to tell others that we know better than they do what is good for them in terms of social, cultural, political or economic regulation. Consequently, we have plausibly created anger, frustrations and tensions.

From our condescending and civilizing postures, we have more often been more inclined to close the doors of communication than to open them with the otherness embodied in particular by Saudi Arabia.

Don’t go overboard

When we go beyond the limits of our “house” to impose ourselves on those of others, in the name of our civilization and the visceral conviction of having the monopoly of truth and of being the center of the world, there are chances are we hit a wall.

This is most likely what happened with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in “The Case” Raif Badawi. Raif had just expressed his thoughts in writing. He hadn’t killed anyone! But he had broken the laws of his country, however, and he paid a heavy price for it.

It made no sense to the West. But it was, unfortunately, in the eyes of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As soon as he was incarcerated, from our Western cultural base, we began to vociferate lessons in democracy, human rights and freedom of expression in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Reaction: end of communication.

Raïf will certainly be released from prison, but before seeing him reunited with his family in Sherbrooke, after another ten years, let’s make sure to offer them more intelligent support in the future.


Leave a Comment