A Wife Speaks: 10 Years in Prison and 1,000 Lashes for a Blog

A Wife Speaks: 10 Years in Prison and 1,000 Lashes for a Blog

By Ensaf Haidar, Wife of Imprisoned Saudi Arabian Activist Raif Badawi

I still pursue that mirage…two years have passed and I am still faced with a scorchingemptiness and a series of agonizing questions.

When will he be back, and in what condition? What will I put on, and how will I react? Should I hug him, kiss him, or should I cry?

I wake up to the torture inflicted upon me by our children’s questions, like: “Mom, will we be leaving tomorrow without Dad, to fly from Beirut to Canada? Will I be afraid of flying? Dad used to help me overcome my fear.”

Eventually I gave in to the increasing persistence of my three angels, who kept pounding me with questions about thereason behind their father’s long and strange absence.

Without meaning to, I told them that he is banned from travelling abroad because of a problem with the Saudi regime. This only led to more questions, and I ended up wishing I had not answered any in the first place.

First thing one recent morning, a telephone call from one of Raif’s friends woke me up. He had attended Raif’s trial back in Riyadh on May 7, 2014. He told me that they had increased Raif’s original sentence of six years and 600 lashes.

I hung up the phone and was overcome with anxiety and stress before bursting into tears. I pulled myself together and recalled that Raif had promised me that he will come back – I do not know when, but he promised me he will!

Every opportunity I get, I always reiterate the same message to the Saudi government. They know very well that Raif is no criminal; instead, he is a prisoner of conscience. The authorities have to abide by the international treaties that provide for the freedom of expression. I wonder whether or not they will ever heed my words.

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