For Immediate Release: September 11, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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Global human rights activist Ensaf Haidar announced on Friday the formation of the Raif Badawi Foundation, named for her husband, who is now carrying out a decade-long prison term, sentenced to 1000 lashes for his religious and political dissent. Michael De Dora, the Center for Inquiry’s director of public policy and main representative to the United Nations, will serve on the Foundation’s International Board of Directors.
In 2012, Raif Badawi, a writer and founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, was arrested for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, a 10-year travel ban after his prison time, and a massive fine. He has already suffered 50 of the 1000 lashes in public, and has not since been flogged due to medical concerns. Since his arrest, CFI has worked relentlessly at the international and grassroots levels to pressure the Saudi government to free him, and to urge the global community to act on his behalf.
Michael De Dora has led CFI’s efforts on behalf of Badawi, which has included diplomatic work, organizing international protests, and statements to the United Nations Human Rights Council, where CFI holds special consultative status. De Dora also serves as the president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
“I feel honored to be included on the impressive board of the newly launched Raif Badawi Foundation,” said De Dora. “Raif was the first international prisoner of conscience I worked to assist after becoming the Center for Inquiry’s director of public policy, and his case was one of those that inspired us to launch the Campaign for Free Expression. Winning Raif’s freedom, and defending the rights of others in similar situations, remains a focal point of my work, and our work, and I look forward to providing any support I can to this effort.”
Last summer, the Saudi representative to the UNHRC attempted to silence another CFI representative, Josephine Macintosh, by shouting her down as she spoke about Raif Badawi’s case and Saudi Arabia’s persecution of dissidents. The Saudi delegate was unsuccessful, as representatives from several nations came to the defense of CFI, and Macintosh herself was undeterred and unintimidated by the enraged Saudi delegate.