Day of action for Raif Badawi

Join the Day of Action for Raif Badawi

1.30pm: Delivery at Downing Street

6.30pm: Public meeting at Portcullis House

Full details below, along with numerous suggestions of ways to take action wherever you are in the world.

Activist and blogger Raif Badawi was first arrested on 17 June 2012. Three years later he remains in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated.

Raif Badawi had already spent almost two years in prison before being convicted in May 2014 for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and a ten-year prison sentence. In addition, the court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to 1,000 lashes.

On 9 January 2015, after morning prayers, Badawi was flogged 50 times. This punishment was due to continue every Friday until he had received a total of 1,000 lashes. However, subsequent floggings have not gone ahead, initially because Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment. No explanation has been given for the postponement of further floggings.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold this draconian sentence.

Meanwhile, his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, is serving 15 years in prison, for his peaceful activism.

English PEN continues to call for Badawi’s sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately, as well as for his conviction to be quashed and for him to be released unconditionally. We also call for the immediate release of Abulkhair.

We have been holding weekly vigils outside the Saudi Embassy here in London, and PEN staff are in regular contact with Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who remains gravely concerned for his well-being. She is extremely grateful for PEN’s ongoing support and has urged us to keep fighting.

To mark the third anniversary of his arrest, we are therefore pleased to be joining forces with other organisations and individuals actively campaigning on behalf of Raif Badawi and his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair to organise a Day of Action.


From 1.30pm – Delivery at Downing Street

Organisations and individuals actively campaigning for Raif Badawi’s release will be holding a rally opposite Downing Street from 1.30pm. At 2pm, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and activist Peter Tatchell will join Jo Glanville (Director, English PEN), Maryam Namazie (International Front for Secularism), Pete Radcliff (Free Raif UK) and Melody Patry (Index on Censorship) to deliver our letter to the Prime Minister. MPs and peers including Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas MP, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Natalie McGarry MP, Stewart McDonald MP, and John McDonnell MP will also join the delegation.

You can read the full text of the letter here

From 6.30pm – Public meeting at Portcullis House

Representatives of campaigning organisations and MPs will come together to discuss how best to secure the release of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair. Speakers include:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Co-ordinator , Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
  • Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party
  • John McDonnell, Labour Party, Hayes and Harlington
  • Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All
  • Melody Patry, Index on Censorship
  • Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
  • Jimmy Wales (via video link)

Please write to your local MP urging them to attend the discussion and to sign the Early Day Motion on Raif Badawi’s case

The meeting will take place in the Boothroyd Room on the first floor of Portcullis House. The entrance to Portcullis House is on the Victoria Embankment. Please be aware that there will be standard security searches as with many other government buildings.

Please let us know if you plan to attend either or both of these events


We hope that activists across the UK and the world will join this Day of Action by holding events in your local area, lobbying the Saudi authorities, and sending messages of support. Do let us know of any action you take by emailing

Social media

Join the call for Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair’s immediate release using the hashtags #FreeRaif and #FreeWaleed

Please also consider pledging a tweet or Facebook message to our Thunderclap for Raif Badawi. The message will be sent en masse as part of the Day of Action.

You may also wish to include the following Twitter handles:

  • Raif Badawi – @raif_badawi
  • Ensaf Haider – @miss9afi
  • Waleed Abulkhair – @WaleedAbulkhair

Write to your MP

Please write to your local MP urging them to sign the Early Day Motion on Raif Badawi’s case.

Send a letter of appeal

Write to the Saudi authorities (a sample letter is available below) – please cc:

Sign petitions for his release

Sign Amnesty’s petition for Raif Badawi’s release, and call on the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to take urgent action

Send a message of support

If you would like to send a message of support to Raif Badawi and his family you can do so on Twitter (see above) or via email to

Letter to the authorities

Send to:

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express serious concern for Raif Badawi.

According to PEN’s information, on 9 January 2015 imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi received the first round of 50 lashes in a public flogging after Friday prayers. Badawi is now due to receive 50 lashes each Friday until he has received 1,000 lashes, although subsequent floggings have not gone ahead.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold this draconian sentence.

Meanwhile, Raif Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abdulkhair, is serving 15 years in prison for his peaceful activism.

I join PEN in calling for his sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately, as well as for Badawi’s conviction to be quashed and for him to be released unconditionally. I also call for the immediate release of lawyer Waleed Abulkhair.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

About English PEN staff

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6 Comments on “Day of action for Raif Badawi”

  1. Great initiative. strongly support this. Short suggestion though: the article should say this is happening in Saudi Arabia somewhere at the beginning. Someone who doesn’t know about this would have to read the all article to find the “Saudi” reference somewhere at the end :)

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