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Raif Badawi - Winner of the 2015 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought

Press Release
Human Rights
Strasbourg
29-10-2015

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz made the following statement on the awarding of the 2015 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to Raif Badawi. He was chosen by President Martin Schulz and political group leaders on Thursday morning in Strasbourg.

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz made the following statement on the awarding of the 2015 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to Raif Badawi. He was chosen by President Martin Schulz and political group leaders on Thursday morning in Strasbourg.

"By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Raif Badawi, the European Parliament asserts its support for freedom of speech as one of the fundamental human rights, a right which must be respected everywhere, with no exception.

Mr Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger and writer, courageously expressed his ideas, openly raised his doubts on the rules of his country which he deemed overtly restrictive and fought for the freedom of thought of all Saudis. His commitment to foster political pluralism and religious freedom, calling for the respect of minorities, of women's rights and freedom of speech are the only "crimes" he ever committed.

We call on Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately halt any punishment measures, reconsider the judgement and release Mr Badawi without charges. The same should apply to all individuals condemned for having expressed freely their opinions in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

The international community has been deeply touched by the horrifying punishment to which he was condemned and has reacted strongly in favour of his release. I welcome his nomination for this prize by political groups and his final designation. With this prize, we honour all the people fighting for freedom of speech and thought in the world."

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian blogger and author of the website Free Saudi Liberals. He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a substantial fine for insulting Islamic values. He was administered the first 50 lashes in January 2015. The remaining lashes were postponed following international protests but could resume soon, as his wife warned on Tuesday on Canadian media. His family had to flee to Canada to avoid possible prosecution.

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The Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, represented by the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática and political prisoners, and the late Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov were the two other finalists.  

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. Last year the prize was awarded to doctor Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For further information:

europarl.president.press@europarl.europa.eu