The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Saudi Arabian blogger, Raif Badawi. The Prize, named after Andrei Sakharov who spoke out publicly against the nuclear arms race during the Cold War and criticised Soviet society, is awarded to those who “have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.”
Raif Bawadi is serving a ten year jail sentence for creating a liberal website, which resulted in a conviction for insulting Islam. His case became worldwide news in 2014 when he was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, as well as the long jail term and a heavy fine http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27318400 . He received fifty lashes in January 2015, resulting in widespread condemnation. In June 2015, his sentence was upheld by the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court.
The European Parliament explains, “Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian blogger, writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals, an online platform for political and religious debate. Reportedly, his website hosted material criticizing senior religious figures and Badawi suggested that the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University had become a den for terrorists.”
Other nominees for the Prize included Edna Adan Ismail, a Somali campaigner for the abolition of female genital mutilation and a former government minister, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian physicist, former deputy prime minister and opposition politician who was assassinated earlier this year and Nadiya Savchenko, an Ukrainian military pilot and a member of the Verkhovna Rada and of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, who was captured on 18 June 2014 and illegally transferred to Russia. Several whistle-blowers including Edward Snowden, and political prisoners and democratic opposition in Venezuela were also nominated.
You can read more about freedom of thought and expression here: https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/category/convention-rights/art-10-freedom-of-expression/