Saudi Arabia: Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, to visit UK

English PEN and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are honoured to be hosting author and activist Ensaf Haidar, the wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, in London in May 2017.

Raif Badawi was arrested on 17 June 2012 and later convicted for insulting Islam and founding a liberal website: he received a ten-year prison sentence, a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes. The first 50 of these lashes were administered in January 2015, in public, and led to a global outcry on his behalf. Since then, no further floggings have gone ahead, initially because Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment. However, no explanation has been given for further postponements, and the threat of further physical punishment continues to loom over Badawi and his family, now living in exile in Canada.

Through Haidar’s visit, just one month ahead of the anniversary of Badawi’s arrest, we hope to maintain and raise further awareness of his case, to amplify the continuing calls for his release, and to put pressure on our own government to speak out on his behalf.


Jailed and flogged in public for blogging: the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi
8 am, Wednesday 17 May
54 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LS, United Kingdom

Doughty Street Chambers, in collaboration with English PEN and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), will host a breakfast talk focusing on Raif Badawi’s case, freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, and what we can do here in the UK.

8 am – Registration & breakfast
8.30 am – Panel Discussion
9.30 am – Close (Coffee and further discussion available until 10.00 am)


  • Ensaf Haidar, author, activist, wife of Raif Badwi, and co-founder of the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom
  • Steven Powles, Head of Doughty Street International
  • Alexandra El Khazen, Head of RSF’s Middle East Desk
  • David Wearing, SOAS
  • Chair: Pollard OBE

More details here

The event is free but as space is limited it is essential that you RSVP:

Ensaf Haidar joins London vigil for her husband, blogger Raif Badawi
Wednesday 17 May, 1 – 2 pm
Embassy of Saudi Arabia, London*

Join a special vigil at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on 17 May, exactly a month ahead of the fifth anniversary of Raif Badawi’s arrest, to continue calling for his immediate release.

English PEN has been holding regular vigils at the Embassy since Badawi was first flogged more two years ago, on 9 January 2015. Our colleagues at RSF joined forces on these vigils shortly after the opening of their UK bureau last year.

This month’s vigil is also co-sponsored by other organisations active on Badawi’s case, including Amnesty International UK, Bread and Roses TV, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Index on Censorship, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), One Law for All, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, the Publishers Association, and the Society of Authors.

More details here


* Activists are asked to meet at the Curzon Street entrance to the Embassy. (note: the postal address of the Embassy is 30-32 Charles Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 5DZ).

Ensaf Haidar will also be travelling to Scotland to take part in an event with our colleagues at Amnesty Scotland and Scottish PEN:

Edinburgh event with Ensaf Haidar
Thursday 18 May, 6.30 – 8pm
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

Reading from Ensaf Haidar’s book Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom: My Husband, Our Story. 

Audience members will have the opportunity to buy a copy of the book (many thanks to Lighthouse Bookshop) and mingle over refreshments and canapés.

RSVP to with any dietary, assistance, or accessibility requirements

Ensaf Haidar to visit Glasgow
Friday 19 May 2017, 12.15pm
George Square, Glasgow – in front of the Cenotaph

Join Amnesty International and Scottish PEN supporters to welcome Ensaf Haidar – author, human rights campaigner and wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi –  to Glasgow

Media: Pauline Kelly, Amnesty International, 07818 453070

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

3 Comments on “Saudi Arabia: Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, to visit UK”

    1. Thanks for your messages, Stephen. I’m afraid today’s events were her only public events in London – very sorry you missed them!

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