For the 34th Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN Canada members and friends were invited to write and share letters to jailed writers. Andrew Pyper, author of The Damned and The Demonologist, wrote this note to Saudi Arabian blogger and author, Raif Badawi, who is serving a 10 year prison sentence and facing 1000 lashes. Read more letters to imprisoned writers here.
Dear Mr. Badawi–
Writing has always been a solitary practice–albeit a voluntary solitude, unlike the one you endure today. However, the struggle for the freedom to write what one feels and thinks and imagines is a collective enterprise. It no doubt provides small comfort, if any, in your circumstances but I’d like to personally remind you that you are not alone. Where I write you today in Canada along with the rest of the free world there are countless writers and readers who are thinking of you, demanding your release, wishing we could take the burden from your shoulders if only for a moment so that you might feel the liberty that awaits you upon your release. I pray it comes soon.
Your friend in solitude and community,
Saudi Arabian editor and blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (over US$260,000) on charges of ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘founding a liberal website.’ He was also banned from travel and from participating in the media for 10 years after his release. On 9 January 2015, Badawi received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes. Subsequent rounds of punishment have been postponed on medical grounds.