Raif Badawi received in absentia FFRF’s Avijit Roy Courage Award presented jointly by Bonya Ahmed, which is $5,000. Badawi was finally released this year after 10 years in prison in Saudi Arabia for “apostasy.” He was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes. After being subjected to 50 lashes, an international outcry halted that punishment. Saudi Arabia is holding him in house detention for the next 10 years and imposing massive fines.
His wife and Saudi activist Ensaf Haidar will accept the plaque and award in Badawi’s absence. Ensaf earlier received FFRF’s Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalist Award in 2018. She and their two children fled to Quebec, where both Raif and Ensaf have been granted political asylum. She established the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom to spread progressive values in the Middle East and work for Badawi’s release. "Freedom of speech is the air that any thinker breathes; it's the fuel that ignites the fire of an intellectual's thoughts," Badawi has said. His writings are collected in a book, “1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think.” The award memorializes Bangladeshi-American atheist activist and writer Avijit Roy, who was assassinated by Islamists on the streets of Dhaka, in an attack that nearly killed his wife Bonya Ahmed.