Showing posts with label saudi arabia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saudi arabia. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Saudi Arabia: A Real Human Rights 'Fixer Upper'

Today, Saudi Arabia stepped timidly into the 20th century, not only are women allowed to vote - assuming they can get their menfolk to drive them to the ballots - but they can now run for office too. I'm not sure whether or not these candidates required approval from their husbands first. I'll just go out on a limb here and guess 'yes.'

In fact, time constraints forbade me from covering the recent news about Loujain Al-Hathloul, about whom I wrote earlier this year. She was thrown into jail for operating a motor vehicle in Saudi Arabia - thankfully they didn't suspect her of witchcraft or they would have killed her. Now she is running in this first election open to women in the hopes of improving women's rights in the country.

Critics think it's a ruse.
Critics argue the inclusive election is an empty gesture by the government, meant to avert media attention from the broad range of women's rights violations that persist within the kingdom.
Whatever the situation, it turns out that 19 women have won, but the report is not telling me who. I wish her the best of luck - one would think the only way possible is up; but the Saudi government has really surprised us all with their extraordinary ability to take a terrible human rights violation and turn it into an horrendous one.

To be honest, I've always admired people who have mastered IDGAF (I don't give a fuck), but the Saudi leadership have truly taken this to such an extraordinary level, that I've come to think that they do actually give fucks. They just do not understand human rights at all. If you're ignorant to the whole concept of freedom of speech and expression then you will not give a fuck about these - you may still give a fuck about how everyone else on the planet is reacting and get really confused and upset at them too.

What am I rambling about? Oh, I'm sorry, I've changed the topic to Raif Badawi.

The week before last week, the Swiss ambassador to Saudi Arabia dropped a hint that the Saudis were preparing a pardon for Raif, who made the horrible mistake of blogging his opinions in a freedom of expression free zone - (the entire kingdom seems this way).
A Swiss newspaper is reporting that imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi could have his sentence of 1,000 lashes suspended, but Amnesty International has yet to confirm the news.

The Swiss Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yves Rossier told the Fribourg daily newspaper La Liberté that Badawi's sentence was suspended.

"A royal pardon is in the works thanks to the head of state, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud," he said.
Haha! Just kidding! The Saudis really played a funny prank on Mr. Rossier there, right? It turns out that just days before International Human Rights Day - how festive! - Saudi officials moved Badawi into a super isolated prison, which is apparently the sort of place they stick people whose appeals are all over.

Oh, and the situation is so grave, that after years of confinement, Badawi has begun a hunger strike too.
Raif Badawi has today began a hunger strike as The Saudi Prison administration has transferred him to a new isolated prison.

The prison administration has transferred Raif to the notorious ‘Shabbat Central’, located in a deserted and isolated area – around 87 km from Jeddah City.

This prison is designed for prisoners whose verdicts have been confirmed with a final Adjudication. The Saudi government has repeatedly declared that Raif’s case is under review and is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court.

We express our surprise at this decision especially after the Swiss Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yves Rossier announcement on 28 November that a royal pardon is in the works. And we are very alarmed at the prison administration decision to transfer Raif to the Shabbat Central and fear it may lead to the resumption of his flogging.

As a result of this decision, Raif started on Tuesday a hunger trike and we hold the prison administration responsible for any harm that Raif may suffer.

We take this opportunity to call on his Majesty King Salman to act on his promises and pardon my husband, end his and his family’s ordeal and unite him with his wife and children.
Incidentally, Raif is diabetic. So if you think hunger strikes suck, then you better believe they really suck if you can pass out and die easily when your blood sugar levels go wonky because... you're diabetic. It's no joke, this could kill him - and I'm not entirely sure if the Saudi officials really care that much.

What can you do?  I guess you could start by signing this petition to Justin Trudeau. Don't bother trying to talk to the Saudi embassy, they're not listening.

You can go here and see other things you can do.

Again, congratulations to the newly elected in Saudi Arabia. If they want to improve human rights and equality - they've got their work cut out for them.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

PM Trudeau Needs to Stand Up For Human Rights

Justin Trudeau has been really busy lately getting elected prime minister and filling his cabinet (with politicians) and getting sworn in and stuff. So I'll let it slide for now that he hasn't mentioned anything recently about Raif Badawi or those dead and almost dead Bangladeshi secular bloggers.

Now, though, he really should start championing human rights and perhaps he should listen to the lawyers over at Lawyers Without Borders.
On the eve of the government's swearing-in, the advocacy group's executive director, Pascal Paradis, held a joint news conference in Montreal with the imprisoned Saudi blogger's wife, Ensaf Haidar.

"Raif Badawi's case is important," Paradis said. "It should rank among the priorities of the new foreign affairs minister, starting Thursday."

"Mr. Trudeau himself has been on Twitter, saying that Canada will stand alongside Raif Badawi."
Remember, you need not like lawyers, but you should always listen to them and try to figure out what they're saying.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that not everyone likes letters in the mail. You see, letters in the mail always thrill me but the Saudis are not interested in 'annoying' unsolicited human rights activists delivering thirty thousand letters in support of Raif Badawi's release.
Supporters of Raif Badawi found themselves up against the closed doors of Saudi Arabia’s embassy Monday as they tried unsuccessfully to deliver 31,000 letters demanding the imprisoned blogger’s release. 
The letters came from 20 different countries - guaranteed to have a wide array of interesting stamps! - but the Saudi embassy just wasn't into it. Perhaps they lack enough letter openers to deal with the volume? Although, Amnesty International is able to sum up the contents of these letters nicely for them in an executive summary if only they would listen.
Vaugrante called it “extremely disappointing, even alarming” that the embassy would not accept the letters, and wondered if it meant communication channels were becoming more rigid. 
My guess is that Saudi officials just don't give a fuck about human rights or freedom of expression. In fact, I really am wondering if they understand the concept at all.

If you would like information on how to reach our new PM, check out a previous post.

(Image source)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Raif Badawi's Flogging to Resume "Privately"

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
You probably didn't miss it, but if you did, there was a statement released yesterday by the Raif Badawi Foundation informing us of grave news. It seems like the Saudis are really craving a good flogging of human rights activists. So, although Raif Badawi's case is still before their (joke of a) Supreme Court, he'll get whipped anyway.
I was informed by an informed source, that the Saudi authorities have given the green light to the resumption of Raif Badawi’s flogging. The informed source also said that the flogging will resume soon but will be administered inside the prison.

It is worth mentioning that the same source had warned me of Raif’s pending flogging at the beginning of January 2015 and his warning was confirmed, as Raif was flogged on 9th January.

While i do not understand this decision especially as Raif’s case is still being reviewed by the supreme court according to a senior source in the Saudi Ministry of Justice and according to the statement of UK Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood, who told the House of Commons in July that my husband’s case was still being examined by Saudi judges.

I call on his Majesty King Salman to gracefully end my husband’s ordeal and to pardon him. I also appeal to his Majesty to allow him to be deported to Canada to be reunited with his family and children, who have been deprived of their father for more than four years.

I take this opportunity to remind Mr. Justin Trudeau, the new Canadian Prime Minister, of his promise to support Raif badawi and ensure his release. I plead with him to give Raif a White Passport to enable him to be reunited with his family in Canada.

Ensaf Haidar
Isn't it grand how they'll do the flogging in the prison this time? Of course, this is so the rest of the world won't be outraged.

A white passport is a temporary Canadian passport. The real question, though, would be how to get them to give him up. I would propose Trudeau threaten to stop shipment of arms to the Saudis. The conservatives made this evil secret pact with the Saudis in the past - human rights be damned. I don't think we, as a civilized country which ostensibly values human rights, should be providing light armoured vehicles - oft used for crowd control - to a country that so patently doesn't understand basic freedom of speech.

As I've reported before, he has diabetes, and can be more prone to life threatening infection. In fact, he's been reported as weak for awhile. I can only imagine that the Kingdom thinks it's waited long enough for world attention to dissipate.

That's why I encourage all Canadians to tweet at our PM, Justin Trudeau, who has tweeted in support of Badawi before. He needs to stand up to the Saudis even if it means putting evil pacts like the 15 billion arms deal in peril.

Remember you can also get ideas on how to help from Amnesty International Canada.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Saudi Arabia Demands That Completely Different Country Censor 'Satanic Verses'

Illegal Iranian copy of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
It's been awhile since the announcement that Saudi Arabia will be (be)heading the UN Human Rights Panel, as well as the Saudi Foreign Minister casually informing the UN that his country will reserve the right to disregard any laws giving equal rights to LGBT people - because religion. What else does the Kingdom of Saud have to contribute to the world?

Well, it turns out they're now protesting the printing of books they don't like in other countries - because, naturally, religion.
Saudi Arabia summoned the Czech ambassador to protest against a new translation of Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses", Saudi state media said on Friday, 27 years after the novel triggered mass demonstrations and a death threat against the author.

The kingdom told the ambassador the book insulted both Islam and Muslims and asked him to try and halt its publication, the SPA agency added, citing a source in the Saudi foreign ministry.
Look, the Saudi government would like other countries to get their priorities straight. All these other countries do - along with pesky groups like PEN or Amnesty International - is nag nag nag them about how they jailed bloggers like Raif Badawi and torture him and flog him. Then these other countries whine and moan about how the Kingdom is beheading people at breakneck pace for really important things like being atheist, or being a witch, or saying the wrong thing... or whatever.

So tired of being bothered for trivialities like jailing and torturing people for saying the wrong thing that the Saudis even wrote a letter back to the Quebec government.
While the Kingdom regrets these media outlets' attack against the Kingdom and its Judiciary, it emphasizes that it does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs, and rejects the encroachment on its sovereign right...
For the Saudi government, though, jailing a guy for having a liberal blog, flogging him and keeping him locked up for it appears to be a minor thing. However, internal affairs of the Czech republic be damned if they're going to publish something that upsets their religious sensibilities.

Surprisingly, (given how much money Saudi Arabia seems to throw around),  the Czech foreign minister apparently came up with some silly excuse about freedom of the press and expression.
But Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told his country's CTK news agency: "We have no reason to interfere in any way because we have freedom of the press and expression." The first Czech translation of the novel appeared in 1994. Prague's Paseka publishing house issued the latest version.
Well, that's likely to go right over the heads of the Saudi officials.

I wonder which sovereign independent country they will protest for next? Do you think they'll begin requesting that foreign authors be jailed and flogged on their own soil according to Sharia Law?

(Image source)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Pomegranate Breasts, Forbidden Cakes, & Twinkie Kinks

Hey so we've all probably read about Mr "pomegranate boobs" Saudi cleric who's totally obsessed with all the steaming-hot-postmortem-heaven-sex that men just like him are gonna get in heaven just as soon as they die.

Haven't watched the video?  Go grok the thing over at Hemant Mehta's blog today. It's compelling stuff.

Sheikh Yahya Al-Jana doesn't want us to blow our chances at an eternity of hymen tearing in Heaven for some quickie business with mall harlots here on earth. Unlike me, I guess he's really into first time sex, potentially causing pain and bleeding with a woman who is unlikely to know what the hell she's doing. Not my cup of tea, personally, but I suppose Al-Jana isn't interested in what I have to say anyway.

He helpfully reminds us men (probably not lesbians) that unlike pious earthly men, most women are too slutty on earth to get to heaven - or even get a wiff of all that neverending virgin sexytime smell - what with shopping, tights, makeup and EVIL SOCIAL MEDIA. Yes, Al-Jana is one special dude.

Of course, if women don't make it to heaven then the resulting spectral sausage factory would turn any good heterosexual man's heaven into an utter Hell. Such would be the case if it weren't for the hundreds of never-sag-breasted supernatural auto-regenerating-hymen astral Barbarellas he'll need to plow through every morning before breakfast for the rest of time. Basically he's gonna get laid forever, he's been thinking about this quite a bit - I can tell.

My question is: What about cakes?

I'll remind you, dear readers, of the ancient Roman cheese-filled placenta cakes they used to cook up around Saturnalia every year.

There was also the Quran-shaped cake which a bunch of Turkish Quran students baked up for a local celebration there. They cut the cake and posted it on EVIL SOCIAL MEDIA and got into big big trouble with religious authorities there.

Then there was that birthday party - complete with cake!! - that Saudis broke up! Arrests were made because there was dancing.

Then there was the Nazi penis cake.

Well, now we've got a Greek Orthodox priest, George Passias, who got busted when someone found his secret sex tape. It featured cake porn
In one scene, the bearded cleric, wearing only a white T-shirt, watches his long-haired brunette lover plant her thong-clad bottom on a piece of banana bread wrapped in cellophane.

Bouzalas, wearing stiletto heels, oddly wiggles on the loaf until it is flattened — apparently a fetish known as “cake crush” or “cake sitting.”

I'll let you check out the video if you wish. To be honest, it seems perfectly harmless and I sort of applaud their kinky sex life - it's original and looks like he's really into it.

The problem is, he might just be a bit of a hypocrite. Because he's married... not to his pastry-smothering lover, Ethel Bouzalas, but to another woman. Oh, and Ethel is married too. So, they were both sort of cheating.

Not that I even have a problem with that. If you wish to have an open marriage and get kinky with (and even impregnate) your Twinkie squishing vixen, then fine. However, I'm pretty sure this is fairly verboten in his branch of Greek Orthodox religion.
A high-ranking Greek Orthodox priest starred in kinky sex tapes with his much-younger parish-school principal and was forced to resign after the affair — which he’d denied for years — was confirmed by church elders.
Apparently, there are also allegations of misdirection of funds meant for building repairs. In my opinion this is an even more serious charge. I mean, I just cannot keep a straight face about the cake. Likewise with the pomegranates.

(Image source)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Saudi Foreign Minister: We Have Right Not to Follow Any (LGBT Rights) Agenda That Runs "Counter to Islamic Law"

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir
Well now that the UN has elected Saudi ambassador Faisal Trad to chair the UN Human Rights Council panel, they had better get right on the terrible human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and perhaps speak up against Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al-Jubeir:
Saudi Arabia has protested any references to homosexuality in a new UN development program, saying it is "counter to Islamic law." Punishments for those engaging in same-sex relationships in the absolute monarchy are brutal, such as being stoned to death.

The protest was made by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who told the UN General Assembly that "mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman,” AP reported.

He stated that Saudi Arabia had the right not to follow any agenda that runs "counter to Islamic law."
Well there you go. I wonder what Faisal Trad's panel's recommendations could be regarding the situation in Saudi Arabia and their obvious lack of any respect whatsoever for basic human rights or international law?

Well, I'm certain this will all play out perfectly fine.

(Image source)

Friday, 25 September 2015

AJ+ Releases Great Video About Saudi Arabia Heading UN Human Rights Panel

Here's a great video by Al Jazeera (AJ+) that sums up who stands to lose now that Saudi Arabia is heading the UN Human Rights Panel. Remember you can sign a petition against this here.

Saudi Arabia to Head UN Human-Rights Panel
Saudi Arabia has been picked to head a UN human-rights panel. Perhaps these people would disagree with that choice.
Posted by AJ+ on Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Sign This Petition to Get Saudi Arabia Off UN Human Rights Council

My post yesterday about Saudi Arabia being appointed a key role within the UN Human Rights Council was mainly a vent. It didn't have anything you could actually do about this situation.

Well, I still don't have much, but I do have this petition to remove Saudi Arabia from the panel altogether.

It was started just two days ago and has already amassed over 11,000 signatures.

(Image source)

Monday, 21 September 2015

UN Human Rights Council Shamefully Sells Out

Ensaf Haidar and UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in Sherbooke, QC.
Remember when I felt ill because the UN was totally cool with Saudi Arabia hosting that human rights summit for the UN Human Rights Council over the summer? Well, it turns out that they've given the panel over to the Saudis. I wonder how much that cost this country, with some of the most epic human rights violations in the world?
The United Nations is coming under fire for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role even though the Kingdom has “arguably the worst record in the world” on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.

Critics, including the wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1000 lashes for blogging about free speech – say that the appointment is “scandalous” and means that “oil trumps human rights”.

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who is leading an international campaign to free her husband, said on Facebook that handing the role to Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was effectively “a green light to start flogging [him] again”.
This just literally makes me want to puke. Here's an example of how things may go with the Saudis in charge.

It really does make me lose all faith in the UN and their so-called mandate to protect human rights. It really does seem like they are weak willed and pathetic on this front.
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said that the appointment, made in June but unreported until now, may have been a consolation prize for the Saudis after they withdrew their bid to head the 47-nation council following international condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record.

The Saudis’ bid emerged shortly after it posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners, to cope with what Amnesty International branded a “macabre spike” in the use of capital punishment, including beheadings, this year.
We really need to get off oil. Until this happens, you can expect more farcical displays of spinelessness like this one.

The UN is no friend of human rights nor secularists like the jailed Raif Badawi, who's wife, Ensaf Haidar, posted:

The International Community Give A Saudi Green Light To Start flogging #RaifBadawi again
Posted by Raif Badawi on Sunday, 20 September 2015
It really looks like we can no longer take the UNHRC seriously. Perhaps we could hold a fundraiser and buy them back somehow?

Read more about this over at the UN Watch blog.

(Image source)

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Dear Canadians: I Really Think We Need to Vote Them Out

Canadian designed and built LAV III by General Dynamics (source)
Hey guys! I've been having what's called a social life lately, which has been stealing precious time from what can be termed as family and household obligations, which has been offsetting all of my precious blogging time. It's disgusting, and revolting and just not at all fair - I know - and I promise it will all come to a screeching end soon - as it always does.

Until my successful social life implodes, however, I will occasionally come up for air. In this instance, I implore you, my readership, to do just one thing this October. If you're Canadian, please vote against Stephen Harper this election. Practically this means voting Liberal or NDP. This is important because this Harper Government is basically evil - the evidence is out.

The examples are legion, but here's one I'll talk about now.
Ottawa is contractually obliged to keep secret the details of a controversial $15-billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia – a transaction that Stephen Harper personally assured the country’s monarch will be guaranteed by the Canadian government, documents say.

Foreign Affairs e-mails obtained by The Globe and Mail under access-to-information law indicate the Saudis have made excess publicity about the sale of armoured fighting vehicles a deal-breaker.
I've written about this foul and putrid deal here and here. Other governments are doing similar things, but we're Canadian and we're supposed to be peaceful. My father didn't get killed while hitchhiking through Egypt and Israel during the Six Day War in 1967 partly because he had a big Canadian flag sewn to his backpack. At gunpoint, they saw it and happily commented on the beautiful lakes in Ontario just before not killing him. Yes, Canada meant something.
A cloak of secrecy surrounds this agreement, first announced in 2014, with Ottawa refusing to divulge any substantial information on the vehicles Canada is selling to the Saudi regime – or how it justifies the sale to a nation known for human-rights abuses.
This is the same government that launched our Office of Religious Freedom. The hypocrisy here is so thick that I am gagging and hope to not vomit all over my keyboard. This new office is part of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. The ORF's head, Andrew Bennett publicly denounced the treatment of secular blogger Raif Badawi by the barbaric Kingdom of Saud before his first flogging.

Of course, they know how unpopular and, well, immoral, this deal is. Both sides are keeping as quiet as possible.
In another government e-mail exchange in January of 2015, Brigette Walenius, deputy director with Foreign Affairs' Middle East-Maghreb Commercial Unit, cited General Dynamics officials who spoke of a “confidentiality clause in their contract with the Saudis” and how Riyadh “could terminate [the] contract if too much info is released.”
Must keep all this hush hush or else how will we be able to feed on the revolting blood money flowing in. If we don't take the money, someone else will, right? Best to keep all this human rights business out.

It turns out that the Conservative government is jumping with glee and smacking their salivating lips just thinking about all those wonderful LAVs (light armoured vehicles) they will sell a nation that chops people's heads off for practicing witchcraft. 
The Canadian ambassador ends this e-mail with a jubilant expression “Gotta LOV the LAV!” but not before sketching out some bare-bones details.

He wrote that General Dynamics “have been chasing” the contract since 2009 and it’s a boon for the plant in London, Ont., because the company’s work on LAVs for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan was wrapping up as the Canadian combat mission ended in 2011. These new orders will “replace the decline from Canada’s Afghanistan withdrawal,” Mr. MacDonald said in his e-mail.

The ambassador wrote that the LAVs “are going to be ‘fully loaded,’” that they would be the “most advanced ever made” and that delivery would start 38 months after the contract was signed and last another 108 months, or nine years.

A separate January 21, 2015, e-mail from an official in Foreign Affairs’s export-control division said documentation received from General Dynamics to date suggests the vehicles could possibly include turreted LAVs “equipped with automatic firearms.”
The Saudi government, who are not a democracy but rather a theocratic monarchy, who have special forces of religious police roaming the streets, who will throw you into jail for questioning anything to do with the government, who do not allow women to drive, who execute people for trivial reasons and who use force to disperse their own citizens and have used essentially the same vehicles to brutalize civil uprisings in Bahrain - the Harper government wants to do business with them!
As an example of how light armoured vehicles (LAVs) might enable human-rights abuses, rights activists allege it was Canadian-made fighting vehicles that Saudi Arabia sent into Bahrain in 2011 to help quell a democratic uprising. Asked if it believes the Saudis used made-in-Canada LAVs when they went into Bahrain, the Canadian government doesn’t deny this happened. It only says it doesn’t believe the vehicles were used to beat back protests.
Maybe they see a little of themselves in the Saudi regime? I'm certain similarities could be found.

Please vote this man out.

If you're an American Democrat, please vote for Bernie Sanders. See how political I am?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Female Saudi Singer Finds Her Voice In LA So That She Might Be Heard Back Home

There's a really fascinating story over at PRI about Saudi singer Rotana Tarabzouni who grew up in what constitutes an extremely liberal family. She speaks fluent American English with zero discernable accent. She thinks and writes in English too. Her father is into Led Zeppelin and the Beatles and Rotana listened to Western top 40 hits and loved to sing.
In Saudi Arabia, music carries a major social stigma. There's a tiny underground music scene, but for women, especially, it's not like you can audition at clubs or play open mic nights. Instead, Tarabzouni finished school and worked in public relations for a Saudi oil company.

Here's the part of the story, though, where fate intervenes. On vacation in Boston, on a whim, she went to a casting call. She blew them away. And then she went back to Saudi Arabia and started thinking. There was a way to become a pop star in Saudi Arabia, she realized. She just had to become a pop star in the US first.
She moved to LA, where she could take voice lessons and be near the biz. While there, she read about protests back in Saudi against the female driving ban there. In support of this, she wrote a cover of Lorde's song Team.  She altered some of the lyrics to reflect the struggle of her sisters. That got over 300,000 hits and drew both praise and the ire of religious folk back in her country.
She says, "It's really horrible what people say. Like people will say like, I hope you die, I hope you burn in hell, you're a slut, this that and the other ... I have just two extremes: people absolutely hate me, and then people who are like, oh my God, this is so incredible, you are so inspiring.­"
You can listen to the entire PRI report here.

The report references a more detailed interview with Rotana over at Narratively: The Saudi That Dared to Sing, which is well worth the read.

Finally, here's Rotana's latest single for a new LP she's working on.

These hangups against music and especially women performing music are all mixed up with religion in Saudi Arabia. Secular music is a threat to a religious institution which attempts to associate itself with all forms of expression and joy in all of society.

Best of luck to Rotana!

(Image source)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Powerful VICE Quebec Interview With Ensaf Haidar

Ensaf Haidar. Fridays are the day of public flogging in Saudi Arabia.
VICE Quebec has released an amazing, informative and powerful interview with Ensaf Haidar jailed Saudi secular blogger Raif Badawi, who is fighting to get her husband out of prison from her new home in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Give this a watch, it will answer any questions you have concerning the situation.

It also goes into the foul hypocrisy of Canada and other nations in one breath condemning Saudi's obvious blatant violations of human rights while in another happily taking billions of riyals for arms deals. She handles the question regarding this with great grace.

(Image source)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Raif Badawi's Case Being Re-Evaluated By Saudi Supreme Court

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
The Independent and a number of other news outlets are reporting that imprisoned Saudi human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi's case has returned to the Supreme Court a second time for another review.
Mr Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar said she had been informed of the development by a senior source in the Saudi Ministry of Justice. The blogger’s family said they were hopeful that the move by the kingdom’s highest court is a “good signal” that his sentence is under reconsideration.
However, the whole process is shrouded with secrecy and so Ensaf is really unsure whether the sentence will be decreased, increased or changed at all. The last time his case was reconsidered by a court, his sentence was increased substantially. So the track record isn't good.
“I cannot say that this is good news, just that I hope it is a good sign. I expect that the flogging could still happen at any time, especially as the court could confirm the verdict then return for more deliberation, and all of this is done in complete secrecy. We do not know even on what basis the court is making its decisions.”
Meanwhile, international pressure has continued unabated and the Saudis have been feeling it. On August 10th, Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al-Jubeir was forced to reiterate that the country's judiciary would not be interfered with.

Here's hoping that things get better, because when it comes to Saudi Arabia harsh unwarranted punishments, things do seem to always be able to get worse.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A Few Updates From Saudi Arabia

Time to check in on the Saudis!

So, remember that beach in France - the one that the Saudi king went and took over? Well, apparently he's cut his visit short and beach goers now get to once again enjoy their public beach - nudists and all! No word as to why the King had to go in such a hurry.

Perhaps he went back to supervise the Haia's (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) new program to combat harassment against women. I'm guessing that the harrassers aren't complete strangers because women aren't really allowed to drive, dress how they like, go out alone...

No wait! They can go out in groups now!
Several Saudi businesswomen started traveling with a group of friends after recent regulations which allow women to travel without their mahram.

These women said they find great fun to travel as a group with their friends and their children, where they can achieve their goals of travel.
Baby steps, right?

Meanwhile, the Saudis have been calling on the international community to ban any sort of blasphemy. This is all in the interest of freedom of religion!
"We have made it clear that freedom of expression without limits or restrictions would lead to violation and abuse of religious and ideological rights," said Abdulmajeed Al-Omari, director for external relations at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

"This requires everyone to intensify efforts to criminalize insulting heavenly religions, prophets, holy books, religious symbols and places of worship," he added.
They are very concerned about intolerance.
Addressing an international symposium on media coverage of religious symbols based on international law, which started in this French city on Saturday, a senior Saudi official said the Kingdom emphasized years ago that the international community must act urgently to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance, which has become widespread in all communities and peoples of the world.
This makes sense, because this same Saudi government seems much more interested in the rights of religion or culture than the rights of actual people.

Speaking of intolerance and blasphemy, the Indonesian government is thrilled this week that some of their pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia will be released early.
The Indonesian mission is hopeful detained Indonesian pilgrims will be free “very soon.” The mission is trying to persuade Saudi authorities of their nationals’ innocence.

Eleven Indonesian pilgrims, who arrived in the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah, were detained on religious charges of practicing “shirk” (associating partners with God) and performing Eid Al-Fitr prayers on July 18, a day after the beginning of Eid Al-Fitr here on July 17, Syarif Shahab, information secretary at the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah, told Arab News on Monday.

“The consulate is working closely with the Saudi authorities for the release of Indonesia’s nationals and we are now hopeful that they will be released very soon,” Shahab said.

He revealed that they were detained for practicing religious activities and rituals which are not correct.
I'm so thrilled to see that the rights of the religion not to be blasphemed against or incorrectly practiced are once again being defended in Saudi Arabia.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Saudi King & Entourage Don't Want Female French Police Officers Near Them

There's a stretch of public beach in the south of France that the Saudi King and his entourage of over 1000 have more or less annexed.
French bathers have accused the Saudi royal family of commandeering a public Riviera beach — a favourite among nudists — for their own private use during a forthcoming visit.

Residents are threatening to sue the Saudis over an attempt to block an underpass leading to the public Mirandole beach at Vallauris — between Antibes and Cannes — with fencing.

They are also furious that workers have begun illegal construction work on a huge concrete slab that is apparently being built on the sand especially for the visit.
The dust and noise generated by the work - who knows if there is a permit - is greatly disturbing the locals. There is already a 140,000+ signature strong petition against this. In fact, yesterday there was a nude protest against him taking the beach for himself!
And yesterday, demonstrators - including nude swimmers - made their feelings known during a protest.
Apparently, the king bought the property around 20 years ago, but the beach is still considered public properly under the law. It really does appear to be spoiled brat syndrome. In the past, he's also been asked to remove his giant machine gun as well.
In 1995, King Fahd lost a legal battle to close a coastal path that ran close to his property and was ordered to remove a machine gun pointing out to sea. He was also blocked from building a parking bay for his yacht.
Thing is, his entitlement syndrome may be legitimate - western countries like France, Canada, US and the UK have been tripping all over themselves running to the money trough. The Saudis are bribing the world with billions of dollars worth of arms deals. This keeps socalled secular democracies from doing anything in protest of the Kingdom's horrendous human rights policies - especially against women, minority religions, and atheists and secularists.

Just take a look at the Saudi Arabia tag on this blog and I think you'll see what I mean. In particular, take a look at the situation with Raif Badawi.

Now, the French police are protesting that the Saudi king has made it clear that he doesn't want female officers anywhere near him.
Now the police are furious, suggesting the visitors from the repressive Middle Eastern state do not believe in equal rights.

‘We’re the victims of discrimination,’ said one police source.

‘One of our colleagues was asked to leave the area on Saturday night because the Saudis felt uncomfortable with her around. This kind of discrimination should not be going on in France.’ 

A second female officer was on Sunday also ordered away from Chateau de l’Horizon, the king’s £5million-plus holiday mansion which was once used by Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Marilyn Monroe. 
These police officers are right. I'm rather convinced that Saudi government officials have no idea whatsoever what equal human rights means. It's the holy buck which is apparently bribing government officials into doing nothing whatsoever in response - except accept money.
Like Britain, France sells millions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia every year and considers the country one of its greatest allies, despite its human rights abuses.

This is why the Ministry of the Interior in Paris is now thought to have agreed to keep all women officers away from the Saudis. 
This is, of course, completely disgusting yet wholly unsurprising. This event is a sort of microcosm of what's happening on a much broader scale. The Saudis, with their amazing wealth, believe they can do anything - because they can do anything.

I wonder why they might have problems with female police officers - women in powerful authority positions of power?

(Image source)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Valiant Saudi Officials Save Children From Evil "Gay Rainbow" Painted on Outside of School

Our good friends and allies, the Saudis, don't only protect their citizens from bloggers, Valentines cards, Twitter witchcraft, and women drivers! You under estimate them! They also protect little children from rainbows - Satan's evil portal to total gayification!

Listen up, here's what I mean. There's this school, Talee al-Noor International School. It had gay-inducing rainbows all over it. So it was fined $25,000 and forced to paint over the rainbow which once decorated the building gayly. Take that, Satan!

Remember, Arabic is written right-to-left, so right is before and left is after.
You can check out the original tweets over at Buzzfeed, but I'll just quote their English translations here.
“They sent the school administrator responsible for the emblem to jail in preparation to refer the case to the Bureau of Investigation and the general prosecutor.”
“This is a Saudi school painted normally. They said it is marketing for homosexuality, and then formed a committee and erased the colors. My question is: did the colors come first or did homosexuality?”
Great question. Some believe the first rainbow didn't show up until after God had murdered everyone with a big flood - including gay people. So hey, maybe gay people have been around longer, right?

Take a look at this Sports Day picture from the school's website!

Saudi officials should take note of the gay rainbow at the back and the super uber gay - as far as Jerry Falwell was concerned - Teletubbies right near the rainbow!

Gay Tinky WinkyBetter buy more paint! Think of the children!

(Top image source)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sherbrooke Makes Raif Badawi Honourary Citizen

Wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar, with Sherbrooke Mayor Bernard Sévigny at Sherbrooke City Hall. (source)
Today, in front of Sherbrooke city hall, mayor Bernard Sévigny declared that Sherbrooke is Raif. Raif Badawi, jailed Saudi blogger and husband of Ensaf Haidar, was declared an honourary citizen of Sherbrooke in absentia only weeks after he was granted fast track Canadian citizenship (immigration selection certificate) by Quebec.

LaPresse Sherbooke Tribune writes:
Les deux banderoles, qui couvrent une partie de la façade de l'hôtel de ville, seront installées en permanence dans l'espoir que M. Badawi soit libéré. La première porte la mention « Sherbrooke est Raif », alors que la seconde indique « Raif Badawi citoyen de Sherbrooke ».

« Les membres du conseil municipal sont profondément touchés par le sort qui est réservé au Saoudien Raif Badawi. Sa condamnation a amené tous les Sherbrookois, tous les Canadiens et les citoyens de plusieurs nations à se lever et à revendiquer le droit à la liberté d'expression, pilier inéluctable de la démocratie », a commencé Bernard Sévigny.
The two banners, which cover part of the facade of city hall, will be installed permanently in hope that Mr Badawi will be liberated. The first declares that "Sherbrooke is Raif", while the second proclaims "Raif Badawi, citizen of Sherbrooke."
"The members of city council are profoundly touched by the Saudi Raif Badawi's predicament. His sentencing has led all residents of Sherbrooke, all Canadians and the citizens of many nations to stand up and defend the right to freedom of expression -- a fundamental pillar of democracy," said Bernard Sévigny.
There will be a vigil tomorrow at 12:30pm. This will be the 27th such weekly protest held before the city hall in Sherbrooke, where Ensaif Haidar has been welcomed with open arms by the community.
Les deux banderoles arborant le visage du blogueur saoudien se sont alors déroulées d'un coup, un symbole émouvant qui a beaucoup ému la conjointe de Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar. Les yeux humides et la voix étranglée par l'émotion, elle a remercié tous ceux qui posent un geste pour son conjoint. « Merci pour Raif. Je pense que c'est important pour Raif. Ça lui donne du courage et de l'espoir. Je suis très, très contente. C'est très important et très touchant. »
The two banners portraying the face of the Saudi blogger were unfurled simultaneously, a powerful symbol which greatly moved the wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf haidar. Eyes wet with tears, and voice quivering with emotion, she thanked all those who made this gesture for her husband. "Thank you on behalf of Raif. I think this is important for Raif. This gives him courage and hope. I am very, very happy. This is very important and very touching."

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

'An Arab Atheist Is Usually a Parasite' - Saudi Opinion Piece

There's a vile opinion piece over at the Saudi Gazette all about Arab atheists -- a group that's been growing in number and voice recently despite local government and mosque often working hard to suppress it.
An Arab atheist is usually a parasite — someone who claims to be knowledgeable but is not and will probably eventually commit suicide. Many Western atheists have been discoverers, inventors or prize-winning authors with goals to achieve in life.

An Arab atheist is usually a drunk, certainly a degenerate and has definitely nothing to offer. Though some people spend time with them for a laugh, the Arab atheist assumes they are admirers.

Arab atheists are usually contradictory, deluded and with complexes gathered in a worthless mind. These people often verbally insult all that is sacred and religious, and most of them do so just to attract attention and the curiosity of common people who laugh at the idiotic notions they hear.
Reads very much like some second world war anti-Semitic propaganda I've run into before. Lest I run the risk of getting accused of lifting this entire piece of filth, I'll summarize the next paragraph.

He goes on to cite atheists like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein as being industrious, while Arab atheists will never amount one jot and will all die from drug overdoses or traffic accidents. I'm uncertain how these two forms of death are in any way equivalent.

He asks whether any contemporary Arab atheists have invented anything useful, written any worthy literature or have done any Nobel Prize worthy acts.  He then concludes, bizarrely, that Arabs are unable to be proper atheists.

What a ridiculous assertion coming from someone living in a country where atheists are thrown in jail or even murdered by the state! Surely, he must be aware of this. And surely, he must be aware that Raif Badawi, one accused of being an atheist, was even nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Oh, I'm sure there are many undercover atheists who are doing excellent things, but they're too concerned about being killed to reveal their lack of faith. Being dead is a harsh career breaker and a huge impediment to scientific progress.
In comparison, a Western atheist is far better than an Arab atheist in terms of attempting to deal with and understand life and leave a deep scientific or intellectual heritage. Please do not take Arab atheists seriously. There is nothing to be taken seriously anyway.
To even have articles like this published in Saudi Arabia might signify certain religious and government groups may feel threatened. That's what I read from this.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Raif Badawi Book: New Quebec Edition & English Edition Foreward By Lawrence Krauss

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Editions ēdito in Quebec have put together and published some of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's most compelling online texts and the new edition is now available for purchase in bookshops across the province. It's titled 1000 coups de fouet: parce que j’ai osé parler librement ( 1000 Lashes: Because I Dared to Speak Freely ).
1000 coups de fouet, a collection of 14 texts by Badawi that landed him in jail in Saudi Arabia, was launched by Quebec publishing house Éditions Édito with Amnesty International on Tuesday. This follows releases in Germany and France and an English translation is in the works, according to the NGO.
The initial launch was Tuesday and was even attended by opposition Federal MP Hélène Laverdière, who is Deputy Critic For Foreign Affairs.
“It’s very sad to see that the Canadian government is not doing more,” said Hélène Laverdière NDP MP for Laurier–Sainte-Marie.
She went on to point out that Canada really ought to be doing more considering we're providing refuge for Badawi's wife and family. Hopefully, Harper won't respond by kicking them out.

If you can understand French, you can watch a video report on the launch over at Radio Canada.

Another Montreal book launch was yesterday and was even attended by some government officials.

The English edition, 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think,  is apparently on its way July 24th with a foreward by Lawrence Krauss!

The Gazette article about the Quebec edition I quoted above includes a few English translations to give you an idea of the sort of thing Badawi wrote that landed him into jail.
In reality, this august preacher drew our attention to a truth that had evaded us until then, from me and my honourable readers, that there exists “religious astronomers!” What a lovely and unusual name, since in my humble experience and from my research, which is not negligible on the subject of the universe, its origins and the planets, I never encountered these terms. I advise the American space agency NASA to abandon their telescopes and give them to our “religious astronomers,” whose perception and insight surpasses the defective telescopes of NASA.
You can find a list of release dates for the book over at -- Amazon links for countries and languages are there as well -- French and German are so far available.

I'll just add that it sort of pains me a little that I see so much action here in Quebec on this, but not too much outside. Perhaps it's because Ensaf Haidar is here? Well, at least they are being made to feel welcome.

You can find information on the Quebec Edito edition at there website.

Quebec edition. (source)

Friday, 12 June 2015

Need to Get More 'Saudi Arabia' Human Rights Issues Out of My System

Okay, okay, I know. You're all tired of me raving on and on about Saudi Arabia. It's just that it's a perfect example of what happens when you mix the absolute power of monarchy with insane fundamentalist religion.

So rather than bore you anymore, I'm just going to dump a bunch of additional links I ran into while researching my previous posts this week. This is cathartic for me.

Saudi Arabia is to lift laws that ban women from travelling without a man's permission  -- Don't get too excited. It seems like they are lifting the age restrictions and are instead focusing on the reason for travel.
Major General Sulaiman al-Yahya said new regulations were being drafted that would also mean women no longer have to apply for permission prior to travel from various government ministries – bringing laws in line with those of “advanced countries”, he said.

Oh yes! What an advancement! The story also includes talk of chipping migrant workers (slaves) so they cannot escape from their employers. How forward thinking!

Saudi Arabia Bans Fashion Shows -- The vast majority of models affected by this are men. I'll give you 0.5 seconds to consider for yourself why that is (black burqas).

Saudi Arabia Shuts 90 Bridal Shops For Not Employing Women -- I guess this is good for women. I mean, I cannot even fathom buying from men. Apparently not a lot of women are really into selling lingerie and bridal gowns -- they prefer being teachers or administrators! Silly women! The government is apparently making this move to open up more appropriate jobs for women.

Reformation: Wild party duo ordered to dig graves -- Two men and two women were caught singing and dancing on the beach! Rather than sending them to jail, a Jeddah court decided to sentence the men to digging five graves each and the women to visiting 10 people in an intensive care unit. Laughing and dancing! They got off too easy!

Dancing nurses get salary cut in Saudi Arabia -- Some nurses danced and sang inside a hospital bathroom! For this terrible sin, they got their wages cut -- luckily no limbs went missing.
"We have decided to deduct five days from their salaries as a penalty for dancing inside the hospital. We do not tolerate such acts at our health establishments," 'Al Watan' daily said, quoting health department spokesman Saeed Al Nuqair.
Okay I feel better now. I'll be fine for the next few days.

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