Jailed Saudi blogger Badawi's wife seeks citizenship to lobby for his release
The wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is urging Ottawa to speed up her demand for Canadian citizenship, so she can continue to lobby for her husband's release by travelling to other countries.
Badawi was arrested six years ago and ordered to spend 10 years in prison and receive 1000 lashes for criticizing the Saudi government in his blog in 2012.
Since then, his wife Ensaf Haidar and the couple's three children have been accepted as refugees in Canada, and have taken up residence in Quebec.
As time passes, Haidar said she finds it a harder fight and she wants to travel to other countries to lobby for his release; because she's not yet a Canadian citizen, making it more complicated.
“I have travel documents, but they're not like a Canadian passport,” she said. “Without citizenship, I can't be protected by the Canadian government.”
Haidar is asking Ottawa to fast-track her citizenship. She arrived in Canada four years ago, and it usually takes five years.
“Without a Canadian passport, I don't feel safe or protected if I travel,” she said.
Haidar has secured the support of writer and activist Djemila Benhabib to put pressure on Ottawa as the government continues pressure on the Saudi government.
They're also trying to have Badawi recognized as an honorary Canadian citizen.
“It's the prerogative of the prime minister to have (Badawi) declared an honorary citizen,” said Benhabib.
Haidar said she fears her husband's case will fade from the spotlight. She and Benhabib are now touring the province, where they are giving conferences on repression in Saudi Arabia in the hope their activism will lead to Badawi's release.