Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quebec wants to reunite jailed Saudi blogger with his family in Quebec

The Canadian province Quebec is offering imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi an immigration selection certificate. The certificates are issued in exceptional circumstances to foreigners in need of protection, Quebec's Immigration Minister said.
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Badawi received a 10-year jail sentence, 1,000 lashes, and a large fine of $266,600 for promoting liberal ideas such as introducing more democracy in the Saudi kingdom, but also for being critical of Islam. He received his first 50 lashes of 20 planned sessions in January. Subsequent floggings have been postponed perhaps because of the international outcry or for health reasons. He was imprisoned in 2012 and sentenced two years later.
Just last week the Saudi Supreme Court upheld the ruling. His flogging was scheduled to resume on Friday June 12 but did not take place. The sentence can now only be overturned by a pardon from the country's new King Salman.
Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, and his three children already live in Quebec after fleeing Saudi Arabia. The immigration selection certificate has been issued on humanitarian grounds. The certificate would allow Badawi to emigrate more rapidly to Quebec if he is set free. Quebec Immigration Minister Weil said: “By obtaining the selection certificate from Quebec, Mr. Badawi will be able to pursue immigration procedures with the federal government." The certificate will be given to Haidar at a ceremony in Montreal next week.
Mirelle Eichacar, an Amnesty International official from Sherbrooke in Quebec where Haidar and her children live said: “The federal (government) is not moving sufficiently in our opinion. We want Canada to do more . . . The ball is in its court and it can take stronger steps for Mr. Badawi to be reunited with his family.”A spokesperson for the family, Elham Manea, said the family was very happy that there had been no flogging of Badawi on Friday. The family again called on King Salman to pardon Badawi and allow him to be reunited with his family in Quebec. The family also expressed thanks to all those who had campaigned to have Badawi freed and gratitude that the Saudi authorities had not resumed the floggings.

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