You’ve probably seen stories about the Saudi Arabian delegation trying to quash the statement of a CFI representative about the Raif Badawi prosecution and brutal punishment for being an atheist. My friend Michael De Dora, CFI’s director of public policy, says they only hurt themselves with their behavior:
On Tuesday Director of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry told MEE the incident has backfired on Saudi Arabia and proved a good time for his organisation to raise their human rights concerns.
“It doesn’t look good for Saudi Arabia,” said Michael De Dora. “By trying to silence us, and looking a bit desperate in doing so, they have actually caused more attention to be given to the statement we were delivering.”
“The timing of this incident couldn’t have better because we have been trying to attention not just to Raif’s case but to his lawyer’s, Waleed Abu al-Khair, who will be put on trial this Thursday facing charges of disobeying the King in relation to his human rights work,” he added.
Waleed Abu al-Khair is a well-known human rights advocate and lawyer who was arrested on 15 April for running an unauthorised rights organisation, the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, which he founded in 2009.
Dora questioned the motivation for Saudi Arabia to join the Human Rights Council, to which it was elected for a two-year term in November last year.
“Saudi Arabia’s membership of the Council is in no way indicative of their commitment to upholding human rights and nowhere has their government expressed that they really care about human rights,” he said.
That last part is obviously true. And it’s also true that the Saudis brought negative attention to themselves. But will that change anything? I have my doubts. And I wonder if it might even backfire, in a sense. Not only have the Saudis now shown any concern about human rights, they also haven’t shown any concern for world opinion. I wonder if all of this might make them even more intransigent and make things worse for Badawi and al-Khair. Remember that Badawi was sentenced once, then retried and given an even harsher sentence the second time around. I hope that isn’t the case, of course.