The House of Commons in Canada was unanimous in voting for a motion demanding Raïf Badawi be given Canadian citizenship.
The legislature voted in favor of the Bloc Québécois’s (a federal political party in Canada devoted to Quebec nationalism) motion to ask Marco Mendicino MP (Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship), a member of Parliament (MP), to offer citizenship to the imprisoned Saudi activist.
While he read the motion, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet (MP) highlighted that Marco Mendicino MP has non-obligatory power to authorize citizenship since Raïf Badawi is in a “particular and unusual state of distress.”
Raïf Badawi, the Saudi blogger, was sentenced to 10 years in a penal institution and 1,000 lashes because he established a web-based forum to discuss Saudi Arabia’s social issues. The now-banned website was called the Liberal Saudi Network on Facebook. Saudi officials accused him of insulting Islam and convicted him in 2012. His wife, two daughters, and a son reside in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Conservative MPs opposed a similar motion in December 2019, also presented by the Bloc. Ensaf Haidar, Raïf’s wife, traveled from Sherbrooke, Quebec, to Ottawa, Ontario (Capital of Canada). Unfortunately, she left the court discouraged. Raïf was on another hunger strike during this time.
On Wednesday Jan 27th, Haidar spoke with Raïf by phone as she expressed how delighted she was by the news. “What happened today is extraordinary! It gives Raïf a lot of hope […], to the whole family. We are Canadians, and now he too will be Canadian,” she said. She converses with Badawi a few times per week, in brief and recorded conversations.
But government sources hindered the idea of granting citizenship to Raïf Badawi, stating “we’re not totally convinced that it would improve the situation.” They added that it could make things worse for him.
Haidar believes that “...even if it doesn’t change Raïf’s conviction, even if he stays until the end of the sentence (in June 2022), it would boost Raïf’s morale. It would boost our morale too. […] That will mean that when he gets out of prison, he will be with us right away.”
The Bloc Québécois was proud of itself for accomplishing this feat as this was the third attempt.
“It’s a moment we’ve been waiting for almost nine years. […] Now that this is a formal request from the House, Justin Trudeau and Minister Marco Mendicino must act now. Every day counts for Raïf Badawi and his family as his health in prison is constantly in danger,” Mr. Blanchet stated.