PHOENIX (January 20, 2015) – Five notable religious freedom advocates, including Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD President, have signed and presented a letter to the Saudi Ambassador calling on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), to immediately release Raif Badawi. If they do not release him, they are asking that the Kingdom take them in the place of Raif Badawi in the meting out of his corporal punishment. Badawi was sentenced to prison, a monetary fine, and 1000 lashes for “blasphemy” based on his website which allowed the free exchange of religious and political ideas. His 1000 lashes are being delivered on a weekly basis every Friday in front of a mosque in Jeddah by the Saudi regime. His health was compromised by the first 50 to the point that last Friday the second 50 were delayed.
The signatories to the letter are Princeton Law Professor Robert P. George, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Daniel I. Mark, who teaches political science at Villanova University, Eric Schwartz, Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Hannah Rosenthal, CEO, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and Katrina Lantos Swett, President of The Lantos Foundation. The letter requested a remittance of his punishment but further stated that in the absence of a full dismissal, each was requesting to receive 100 lashes in the place of Mr. Badawi.
Noting that KSA was represented by highly placed government officials in the recent Paris march, “protesting the brutal murders in the name of Islam” the letter described the march as a “demonstration in support of human rights and civil liberties, including the liberty to criticize religion, particular religions, schools of thought within religions, and religious figures and leaders.” Yet, the KSA is inflicting this cruel punishment, known to cause a slow and painful death, over words on a website in the name of Islam.
AIFD has long stood with Raif and has been calling for the U.S. to do more on his behalf since his egregious arrest, conviction, and sentencing. AIFD finds no difference between the crimes committed by the Islamist terrorists in Paris who assassinated cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the crimes against humanity committed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the name of blasphemy against innocent heroes for religious liberty like Raif Badawi.
Voicing the need for religious liberty and universal human rights to prevail, the letter concludes with “We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured. If your government does not see fit to stop this from happening, we are prepared to present ourselves to receive our share of Mr. Badawi’s unjust punishment.”
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. AIFD also supports Muslim youth and adult leadership initiatives, and efforts to protect universal human rights including women’s rights and freedom of conscience. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.
About Dr. Zuhdi Jasser
Dr. Jasser is a Syrian-American Muslim activist, US Navy veteran, and physician. He is a noted expert on Islamism, Islamist terror groups and Middle East foreign policy. As the founder of AIFD, Dr. Jasser is dedicated to combating Islamism in all its forms and supporting human rights and democracy. He is the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s fight to save his faith” published by Simon and Schuster.