As part of an ongoing strategy to quell political dissent, the Saudi Arabian government has been arresting anybody critical of the Islamic monarchy, and they have now set their sights on a leading figure in the advancement of women’s rights.
The activist, Samar Badawi, until recently had led the campaign to free her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, a Saudi lawyer currently serving a 15-year sentence in connection with his own activism.
She is also the sister of Raef Badawi, a Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a large fine, 10 years in prison and 1,000 blows with a cane for running a website that criticized the country’s religious establishment. He received 50 blows in a public square last year, prompting international outrage. The caning stopped, but Mr. Badawi remains in prison.
Ms. Badawi did not advocate anything like that, but did push for more rights for women in a country that bars them from marrying, traveling abroad and getting some medical procedures without the permission of a male guardian.
In 2012, the State Department gave Ms. Badawi an International Woman of Courage Award. Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, said that she was the first woman to sue her guardian for preventing her from marrying the man of her choice, and also sued the Saudi government for the right to vote in municipal elections.
Will the US stand by while the life of one of the most powerful young voices towards the advancement of women’s rights remains in jeopardy?