Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair awarded Freethinker Prize 2015

Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair awarded Freethinker Prize 2015 Zürich, 9th October 2015. Saudi citizens Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair received the first Swiss Freethinker Prize as appreciation of their courageous commitment to promote humanist and secular values, The award by the Freethinkers Association of Switzerland carries a prize money of 10.000 Swiss franks. Ensaf Haidar was handed the prize at a reading organised by the Freethinkers, Amnesty International Switzerland and the Zurich-based Forum for Democracy and Human Rights. In her Book «Freiheit für Raif Badawi, die Liebe meines Lebens» (Freedom for Raif Badawi, the love of my life, co-written with the journalist Andrea Claudia Hoffmann and published in German) Ensaf Haidar describes her family’s story and her fight to free her husband, who was sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years imprisonment. In 2008 Raif Badawi had started to blog about social liberal topics. In particular, he advocated women’s rights and the separation of the State and religion. Soon several of Badawi’s articles were reprinted by Saudi newspapers and he was regularly asked to write columns. Because of an increase in threats Badawi however decided to temporarily shut down his site and the family moved to Malaysia. But they had the heart to move back to their home country and Raif Badawi re-lauched his forum and Ensaf Haidar became an active contributor herself. In 2012, Raif was arrested and Ensaf, taking several detours, fled to Canada with their three children, where she was granted political asylum. Since then, she has admirably been campaigning for the release of her husband, and is helping to maintain the public pressure on the Saudi regime. The prize money is intended to provide a small contribution to the financial hardships of the recipients, respectively, in the case of Waleed Abulkhair, his wife. Badawi and Abulkhair are not only imprisoned, the State has also blocked their savings. The Swiss Freethinkers award will be awarded every two years and is financed via a bequest.