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Free, but are we ?! When one amongst us is not we are all diminished . When one we know is not we are all obligated . When one is not free the potential for more than one to not be free is greater. And where does that take freedom itself , down a slippery slope ?!

There are many indivdual people who are not free.

Negative freedom and the concept and reality of "freedom ,from, " something , for example the fear ,that President Roosevelt spoke of , and the want , too.

Positive freedom and the manyfold possibilities referred to , again by Roosevelt in the "freedom to" , for example , to speak , to worship.

And the many ,very seemingly ,modern ,freedoms, actually timeless, that most people , now ,thankfully, accept. Freedom to associate , and to love.

Free, but are we ?! Yes in most countries , more than ever in the history of the planet !

But not in all.

In Saudi Arabia a man had his birthday this week and again he had it in prison. There are many kinds of prison . There is a prison of the mind . There is a prison of the heart. But the prison this man is in is of neither. Strong and healthy in mind and heart , a thinker and writer, a husband and father, the prison this man is in is made elsewhere and by other sources.

Free, Badawi ?! If Raif Badawi is now free ,in his mind or his heart ,after what has now become some years , in an actual ,physical prison, he is all the more remarkable . And he is remarkable . Imprisoned for being a Liberal . A Liberal citizen of his country . A Liberal advocate of his religion. Writing for freedom of thought in both and way beyond . He created a blog advocating a Liberal Saudi Arabia. And for that he was imprisoned. Sentenced to be flogged with the lash,on a reglar basis , with ten years as his sentence !

Raif Badawi has been the subject of protest . Parliamentarians like the wonderful ,late and lamented, Lord Avebury , of my own party , the Liberal Democrats ,in Britain, speaking out on behalf of Badawi in parliament. Prince Charles ,practicing the quiet diplomacy his family excel in, bringing up the case of Badawi with his fellow royals in the House of Saud. Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, capable of over friendliness , recently ,towards another non democratic government , Cuba, here ,not afraid at least to make a wave or two thankfully , also, has pleaded the case of Badawi, from the perspective of the country , the Saudi hero's extraordinary wife, the campaigning , Ensaf Haidar , has resettled in . Pen , the writers organisation, with a branch in many a country , with a terrific track record on behalf of those who write ,too, but often have the right to , taken away, have led many public callings for the release of Badawi.

And there have been many awards given to this peaceful fighter for freedom, the most recent just weeks ago, The Liberal International Prize for Freedom, the highest honour bestowed by this great political and human rights international, even older than the UN, celebrating seventy years since it's start, just this year.

Free, Badawi ?! If only we could but we can't ! If only he was but he isn't! But he could be.

I plead with the government of Saudi Arabia , as all do who know of this case.Earn your place on a human rights committee. Very many know you have not. Show that you can change. We cannot see you having done so. Be confident in your tradition and in your religion , by showing and believing, that questioning of them, by others, does not weaken either , but strengthens both !

Free, Badawi ! You and we , are not fully free until you do

Author : Lorenzo CHERIN

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