Saudi Arabia: Waleed Abulkhair sits in a Saudi jail for speaking out

July 12, 2016

This week marked two years since a Saudi Arabian kangaroo court sentenced human rights lawyer Waleed Abulkhair to 15 years in prison for “inciting public opinion.”

Abulkhair, 37, is one of the most visible representatives of Saudi Arabia’s beleaguered civil society. In 2008, he organized a 48-hour hunger strike to condemn the detention of a group of political prisoners known as the “Jeddah Reformers.” He has since continued to challenge the absolute monarchy by representing high-profile dissidents and calling for democratic reform. One of his former clients and brother in law was Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was himself convicted in 2013 for “insulting Islam” and sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals.

In 2009, Abulkhair founded the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia(MHRSA), a civil society organization that reports on the abuses of the Saudi regime. He rapidly gained popularity in the region through his activism on social media. In 2015, Abulkhair was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded the Ludovic-Trarieux human rights international prize.


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