Saudi Arabia Frees Women’s Rights Activist, Giving Hope To Many Others

by
Sameera Ehteram
Many take this as a good sign for Raif Badawi, a fellow blogger sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Saudi Female Activist Released

Souad al-Shammari, a Saudi women rights activist who co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network internet discussion group with blogging activist Raef Badawi, is free after about three months in prison in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

Al-Shammari’s daughter Rimaly told reporters that her mother was released three days ago after signing a pledge "to reduce her activities."

"She’s released now, thanks be to God," she said.

She was arrested in late October for insulting Islam as she had posted comments on Twitter about Islamic religious leaders. Saudi Arabian authorities claim the tweets were offensive and incited Saudi women to rebel against the guardianship system and religious authorities.

Al-Shammari’s activism already cost her job, pension and retirement benefits. She has been banned from traveling since March 2013.

Read More:  Secular Saudi Blogger's Death Penalty Might Just Be Another Attempt Towards Intimidating Free Speech

In October, al-Shammari was interrogated by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She was then told that she would be detained for further questioning. Later, she was transferred to the women’s section at the General Prison of Briman, in Jeddah, where she was held till her release.

Freedom of speech and living beyond the rules and regulations set by the radical religious police is not tolerated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi blogger and al-Shammari’s fellow activist, Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in jail and fined 1 million riyals (about $266,000). He was flogged publicly 50 times on Jan. 9. He was supposed to go through the same punishment every Friday until he completes his sentence. However subsequent rounds of flogging were postponed for the following two weeks on medical grounds.

Although al-Shammari's release raised hopes for good news for Badawi, al-Shammari's daughter Rimaly doesn’t think so.

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