Saudi blogger's wife appeals to Austria
Ensaf Haidar, the wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, has called on the Austrian government to close a Saudi-financed dialogue centre in Vienna, and to help end her husband’s suffering and save him from further floggings.
In a video message presented by the Initiative of Liberal Muslims in Austria (ILMÖ), Haider thanked Amnesty International and Austria’s Green Party for holding weekly vigils for her husband outside the controversial King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).
She called on Austria "as a guardian of human rights to do everything to achieve the closure of the King Abdullah Dialogue Centre". She added that the centre was damaging Austria’s reputation as it refuses to speak out on human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.
Haidar - who lives in Canada and wasn’t able to get a visa to travel to Vienna - is hoping that a royal decree from the new Saudi King Salman may pardon her husband.
Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison for "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and "going beyond the realm of obedience".
His punishment has caused international outcry.
A first round of 50 lashes was carried out on January 9th before a crowd outside a mosque in Jeddah. However since then he is reported to be physically unfit to receive a further round of flogging, which has been repeatedly postponed.
Badawi established Liberal Saudi Network in 2008, an online forum that sought to encourage debate on religious and political matters.
Austria’s Greens and Social Democrats are pushing for a closure of the King Abdullah Centre, but the Conservative People’s Party has warned that such a step could damage economic relations with Saudi Arabia as well as threaten Vienna’s position as the headquarters for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).