Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed to King Salman of Saudi Arabia “his important concerns” about the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, imprisoned since 2012, according to a statement from the cabinet of the head of government released Tuesday.
A u During their telephone conversation Monday, the two leaders “discussed the importance of respect for human rights and freedom of expression and national reforms in Saudi Arabia, including progress” at this subject, according to the same source.
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The head of the Canadian government has “expressed his significant and consistent concern about the imprisonment of human rights defender Raif Badawi,” said the services of Mr. Trudeau.
A Saudi citizen, Raif Badawi has been imprisoned since 2012 because of comments made on his blog.
He was sentenced in November 2014 to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for “insulting Islam”. He had received his first 50 lashes in January 2015, but the other sessions, on a weekly basis, had been suspended after a wave of protests around the world.
A fierce defender of freedom of expression, Raif Badawi had asked on his website the end of religious influence in the Saudi kingdom, governed by Wahhabism, a rigorous version of Islam.
His wife Ensaf Haidar has been living in Quebec since the fall of 2013 with her three children, who are educated in Sherbrooke.
During their telephone conversation, Justin Trudeau and the Saudi ruler “discussed the bilateral relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia”, including “their commitment to generating economic growth and fighting terrorism”.
Finally, Mr. Trudeau “expressed grave concern over the humanitarian situation in Yemen”, a country torn apart by a civil war between the Houthi rebels and the power of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The latter has been helped since March 2015 by a coalition of several countries commissioned by the Saudi kingdom, which tries to stop the progress of the Houthis, pro-Iranian.