Samar Badawi’s husband is Waleed Abu al-Khair, a prominent human rights lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Waleed is in prison, serving a 15-year sentence for speaking out about human rights.
Words are not enough for me to express how proud I am of my husband. How deeply proud I am of the man who believed in me and my cause when I was imprisoned. As my lawyer, he defended me and never left me alone to face those who unjustly attempted to impose their patriarchal authority over me just because I am a woman who dared to speak up. Everyone turned their backs on me except for my husband who remained by my side until he had helped achieve justice for my cause.
He has always been my rock whenever I felt weak, he was my strength and my source of motivation and inspiration.
He taught me that a person is born free and that it is up to him or her to live in freedom or die trying to achieve it. Slavery has no place in his life except when it comes to serving God, the one and only. Now, he lives in freedom even though he is behind bars with his colleagues Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad al-Qahtani and many other activists imprisoned purely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
My life with him can be described as a wonderful book; resilience is its title, strife and struggle fill its pages, and its conclusion is freedom.
And here I am, my beloved husband, applying what I have learned from the book of our life – for I shall forever be resilient, hanging on whilst you are behind bars. I shall continue my struggle as long as my heart beats, and I shall never give up until I have you back under our roof. I shall forever believe in our freedom which you have spent your whole life defending.
Know then, dear husband, that it is tyranny and oppression that have put you behind bars.
In Saudi Arabia those who chose to rule in the name of Islam and Shari’a law have treated such jurisprudence as mere ink on paper. Those who claim to use religion to protect me are the very people who took away my safety and security, for within the kingdom those meant to be serving justice have decided that oppression should be a cause for celebration.
So a word to them…
To all those rulers and judges who have unfairly imprisoned the free, and enslaved the people, beware of the judgement you will receive from the heavens above. Woe to you who have terrorized the aggrieved out of pride.
To my fellow Saudi Arabians I say that my husband has been imprisoned so that you could live free. He stood up to the tyrants to claim your rights; he faced up to his oppressors telling them he would not tolerate their repression. Remember that history does not forget, it will exalt those who have fought for freedom and cast aside the memory of those who succumbed to a life of humiliation and servitude.
My last words are to my baby daughter, Joud. Do not feel sad because you were born while your father was behind bars. Be proud instead and hold your head high, for the whole world envies you for the father you have – even if his homeland has turned against him.
The future awaits you to continue your father’s struggle so that you make him even more proud than he is now. You will grow up to be a role model yourself, soon to become known as Joud the free, Joud the defiant, Joud the resilient: Joud Waleed Abu al-Khair.
Samar herself has been punished for her peaceful activism in attempting to stand up for human rights; she has tried to register to vote and driven a car – two activities that women are notoriously prevented from doing in Saudi Arabia. Samar’s brother is the blogger Raif Badawi – also currently imprisoned for his human rights activism.