Good story but as she admits herself she isn t a strong literary stylist. Ensaf s account is simple, candid and powerful just like what we see of her on the web It made for an excellent weekend read, with answers to many of the questions I had regarding Ensaf and Raif Badawi what sort of an environment Ensaf grew up in, how they came to be vocal liberals, how she navigated from Saudi to Lebanon to Canada, what her fears are and how a home maker having come from a very conservative culture finds the strength and resource to fight the way she does Highly recommend. A Powerful First Person Account Of Ensaf Haidar S Life Wither Her Husband, Saudi Arabian Social Activist Raif Badawi, And Her Worldwide Campaign To Free Him From Imprisonment Ensaf Haidar S Unforgettable Account Of Her Marriage To Imprisoned Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Tells The Story Of The Survival Of Their Love Against All Odds, And Of Her Courageous Fight For Her Husband S FreedomWhen Ensaf And Raif Married In They Shed Tears Of Joy They Had Overcome The Resistance Of Her Family And The Rigid Conventions Of Saudi Arabian Culture, And Their Battle To Be Together Was Finally Won But An Even Greater Challenge Lay Ahead After The Romance Of Their Clandestine Courtship, The Triumph Of Their Wedding Day, And The Ups And Downs Of Married Life, Ensaf Discovers That Raif Is Becoming Active In The Liberal Movement Their Partnership Grows Stronger As Raif Works Tirelessly, Daring To Question The Social Order Of Saudi Arabia Until His Activities Attract The Attention Of The Religious Police With Raif Under Increasing Surveillance, Ensaf Reluctantly Accepts Exile As The Only Way To Protect Their Three Young Children, Hoping That Raif Will Soon Join ThemBut Raif S Arrest And Subsequent Sentence To Ten Years In Prison And , Lashes Change Everything Ensaf Must Take Up The Fight For Her Husband S Life, Galvanizing Global Support And Campaigning For His Freedom And Their Right To Be Reunited As A Family Again This Profoundly Moving Memoir Is Both A Love Story And An Inspiring Account Of The Making Of Not One But Two Heroic Human Rights Activists WE, WHO ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH to live in democracies, accept freedom of speech and the civil liberties that we enjoy as our natural and inherent rights But we are lucky these rights are, in fact, privileges.Raif Badawi The Voice of Freedom, Ensaf Haidar s moving love letter to her activist husband, brings this point home Badawi, an activist and founder of the website Free Saudi Liberals, is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia on several charges, including insulting Islam and apostasy, his sentence 10 years in prison, a fine and 1,000 lashes, the first 50 of which have been administered already.The book, which Haidar wrote with Andrea C Hoffman, could be read as a straightforward love story Certainly the strength of the Badawis love for each other is made clear from the moment the couple met , via a misdialled phone call made to a mobile that Haidar wasn t even meant to have, through their illicit courtship in a country in which too much freedom is seen as a risk , their subsequent marriage, which took place despite family opposition, to Badawi s persecution and imprisonment and Haidar s fight, while in exile in Canada, for her husband s release.Raif Badawi, however, is much than this and not just because it highlights the injustices that the Badawis and many people like them have suffered, and the sacrifices that they as a family have had to make What the book brings home, somewhat brutally perhaps, is that with freedom of speech comes great responsibility and by that I mean about what we say and how we choose to say it We must also accept that freedom of speech comes at a price and that there may be consequences from voicing our words, our views, our opinions.We live in a world in which most of us, at the press of a button, can get our views across to the masses via social media Twitter, FB, instagram, YouTube, our blogs While many of us use these forums to showcase opinions, debate issues we care about, highlight injustices others equally use it to spread hate And this is, regrettably, what Badawi s own father, Mohammed Raif Badawi did when he posted videos expressing his disapproval and dislike of his son and daughter s behaviour on YouTube, videos that subsequently were taken up by groups pursuing other political, social and religious agendas and videos which, arguably, contributed to Badawi s imprisonment and sentence.In the book, Haidar is extremely honest about her relationship with her husband, particularly the difficulties that they faced as a young married couple in an extremely rigid society in which love marriages are not the norm Seemingly, initially at least, as Badawi became liberal in his views, this openness did not extend to his own wife In the course of the first two years of our marriage, Haidar writes, our love lost the deep intimacy that had initially bound us together We were living out the traditional Saudi Arabian gender roles Except that I was the loser Isolated from her family and friends, and aware of the increasing distance between them, Haidar made up her mind to change, to become independent as a woman and to make herself interesting to her husband These changes brought the couple closer and also helped Haidar grow, possibly enabling her to develop the skills and strength that she would require to deal with the news of her husband s imprisonment and the realities of being a single mother, living in exile, without any money or support system.What shines through in this book is what an extraordinary woman Ensaf Haidar must be Haidar has fought ceaselessly to free her husband, while bringing up three young children in a different culture, far away from her native land And, it is largely due to Haidar, supported by a group of dedicated individuals and groups, such as Amnesty and English Pen, that Raif Badawi hasn t been forgotten and is such a well known figure globally That Badawi s friend, brother in law and lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, is also now in prison, his crime defending Badawi against the charge of apostasy, emphasizes, yet again, how completely unjust this situation is It also brings home how important it is for us to help bring about change through our voices, our words, through the very freedom of expression that we enjoy and so often take for granted.As I type, the words of activist Malala Yousafzai come to mind We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced O ne book, one pen can change the world I hope so.I really hope so.In fact, let s make it so.Originally published on www.theliteraryshed.co.ukhttp www.theliteraryshed.co.uk read I learned about the plight of Ensaf s husband, Raif, via Amenesty International I have signed many petitions for his release and for the punishment of a further 950 lashes not to be carried out and would urge all readers of this review to please sign such petitions I wanted to find out about Ensaf and her life with Raif so I bought this book a few months ago I had deferred picking it up as I felt it would be such a painful story to read and needed to be in the right frame of mind to read it I shouldn t have done so as, although it is clearly a very moving story, she is a strong and proud woman and records the details of her life with Raif but does not go into his punishment in an overly graphic way.The story takes you through her early life, meeting Raif, their life together and their physical separation through forced circumstances.Ensaf is clearly very careful not to inflame the situation to make matters worse for Raif Therefore, when she details of problems in Saudi Arabia such as their treatment of women, the strong interference of religion in law making she does not overly criticise she just reports on the facts as did Raif in his website and her personal experiences.Ensaf and Raif have an amazing story to tell, which Ensaf delivers so well and together with the insights she offers into life in Saudi Arabia this makes for a definite must read. I feel ignorant not knowing about this story I feel lucky to live in a country where I have free speech and rights as a woman. This is great reading especially in light of the disappearance of another Saudi dissident in the Their embassy in Istanbul Raif has not been killed, but you can learn what the government does with people who disagree with Saudi dictatorship.very good book with stories told by a supportive and insightful wife. An unforgettable book that I will carry with me for a long time Man s inhumanity to man is the first thought that came to mind when I finished Raif s story This is a must read for anyone interested in world politics and for those who believe in human rights for all. I m also currently running an INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY on Twitter now Come enter to win a paperback of this extraordinary book THE REVIEWEnsaf Haidar s Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom My Husband, Our Story is the kind of book that sticks with you Having finished it in or less one sitting, I couldn t stop thinking about it for a long time Days after having turned the final page of this powerful non fiction piece, I was scouring the web for Badawi s work, Haidar s interviews and updates on the trial.I was obsessed.What started out as an endearing love story of Ensaf Haidar s and Raif Badawi s secret courtship soon takes an unexpected turn This candid first person account tells the story of one man s struggle to fight back against systematic injustice within his own society Religion and faith are often exploited by political leaders to drive their own agendas Raif echoes these very sentiments on his blog when he calls for a separation between religion and state Free Saudi Liberals, Badawi s blog and an open forum of sorts raises important questions about the existing justice system and encourages citizens to speak of reform This soon draws the attention of Saudi public officials who threatened and harassed Badawi to shut down his site Raif s own father expressed his disapproval of his son s liberal nature and his online activism This was used by other powerful individuals with ulterior political, social as well as religious motives Ensaf speculates that individuals who wished to silence liberals funded Raif s father for the videos After being at the receiving end of multiple threats to their safety , Badawi and his family attempt to leave the country but Badawi is forcibly detained by the officials.Haidar and her three kids flee to Egypt, then Lebanon, then Canada where they gained political asylum In 2013 Raif Badawi was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 600 lashes for multiple charges including insulting Islam and apostasy But soon after his sentence was increased to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison 50 of which has been already administered the video of which can be found on YouTube Fair warning the graphic content may be a trigger for most people Badawi s friend, brother in law and lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, is also now in prison, his crime defending Badawi against the charge of apostasy.This is not just Raif s story, it is also the story of a lone woman s remarkable courage Ensaf Haidar was brought up as a sheltered young woman who despite getting an university education was not expected to have any ambitions let alone aspire towards a career But circumstances force her to leave the land that she thought of as her home her entire life As a foreign woman in a foreign land, Haidar has come so far despite her upbringing, the lack of support from her family, her limited capabilities and the language barriers that she had to face In her interviews, she comes across as a petite and soft spoken young woman but she is a force to be reckoned with Even prior to Raif s imprisonment, Haidar s intelligence and bravery shines through when she speaks of the hurdles that she had to overcome in their married life When Haidar first stumbles across Badawi s blog she finds it difficult to reconcile the husband she knows with the man who runs the blog She states that despite Badawi s calls for a re look at the gender roles in Saudi, he practiced the very same thing he preached against So she challenges her husband to practice what he preaches by confronting his own prejudices first Haidar soon gets involved in Badawi s activism work and she even publishes her own piece in a local publication, Al Hayat The sheer honesty and candidness of Haidar s story shines through when she describes the hurdles that she had to overcome during her marriage I am truly inspired by this woman and her love for the man who s currently being punished for the crime of speaking his mind There s so much controversy surrounding Islam and freedom of speech, most of which are due to wrongfully perpetuated myths and biased media reporting The Quran and Hadith are crystal clear in it s support for freedom of religion and freedom of expression.Accordingly as a Muslim, I believe that one should live and let live.Reading some of Raif Badawi s writings, I ve been struck by how simple and completely non violent his requests for reform are As a blogger, this book made me step back and acknowledge my own privilege While I believe that absolute freedom of speech is a myth, I can t deny the privilege that comes with living in a democracy where freedom of speech is guaranteed by the country s constitution whether it is actually actioned is a whole other story thanks to Sri Lanka s long history of widespread suppression and censorship, especially of those who are critical of the local government This is why it s important for those of us who enjoy the right to freedom of speech to speak up against the injustice faced by Raif Badawi and countless other victims of censorship.Little, Brown Book Group and English PEN have been incredible in creating awareness about the FreeRaif movement Not only have they been in instrumental in helping Ensaf Haidar in her road to getting published but they are also held a special vigil to raise awareness about Raif Badawi s plight Additionally, world leaders who have the power to do may need to re evaluvate their own relationship with leaders of Saudi Arabia and take a stand on this issue Raif has been recognized globally for his work with multiple accolades but the biggest award, his freedom is yet to come.WHAT CAN YOU DO There are number of ways one can support Raif Badawi and Ensaf Haidar Visit raifbadawi.org for details.THE RATING4 StarsFINAL VERDICT Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom My Husband, Our Story is a powerful account of one woman s fight for her husband s freedom An absolute must read for advocates of free speech.YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY 1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think Raif Badawi Appalling story of the Saudi persecution of her husband and her family I found the story of how they got together despite the bizarre enforcement of the separation of men and women and blocking from the men in her family fascinating.
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- 256 pages
- Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom
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- 06 September 2018 Ensaf Haidar