Raif Badawi's wife seeks Stephen Harper's help for jailed Saudi blogger
'It is impossible for a human being to be able to withstand 50 lashes weekly'
The wife of the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi says her husband can't endure another flogging.
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Ensaf Haidar, now a refugee living in Quebec, joined an all-party coalition of MPs on Parliament Hill on Thursday urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene personally with the Saudis.
They want the prime minister to push for the release of Badawi, who is set to receive 50 more lashes on Friday.
It is part of Badawi's ongoing punishment of 1,000 lashes, a 10-year prison sentence and heavy fines for criticizing Saudi clerics on a blog he founded.
The 32-year-old father of three was lashed 50 times on Jan. 9, but his second scheduled beating was postponed last week for medical reasons.
"Raif's health condition is getting worse and worse," Haidar said through a translator during a press conference on Parliament Hill.
She said that was the conclusion of several doctors who examined her husband in the last week.
"I am very concerned about him. It is impossible for a human being to be able to withstand 50 lashes weekly."
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, a long-time human rights advocate, said Saudi Arabia must live up to its international obligations as signatory to the United Nations convention banning torture.
He said Saudi leaders have stated their support for the free speech rights of the Paris newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by terrorists angry at its depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
"The same principles, the same obligations apply with regard to Raif Badawi," said Cotler.
Amnesty International says it has signatures of 150,000 Canadians on a petition asking for Badawi's release.
"The human rights concerns here are so compelling," said Alex Neve, Amnesty's Canadian secretary general.
"It also reflects the fact that there's a strong Canadian connection by virtue of the fact Raif Badawi's family lives here in Canada."
Saudi prince slated to visit Ottawa next month
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Development Minister Christian Paradis and Andrew Bennett, Canada's ambassador for religious freedom, have all issued statements condemning Badawi's sentence.
Baird brought the matter up last week in Davos, Switzerland with Prince Turki Al Faisal, a member of the ruling House of Saud.
The prince is scheduled to visit Ottawa in mid-February.
NDP human rights critic Wayne Marston said that although no one should lose focus on getting Badawi released, western governments should continue to press Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record.
"As far as changing the laws of Saudi Arabia, that will be up to the people of Saudi Arabia to do," he said.
"But our role would be to remind them of the value human rights, the value of free speech, and the importance of having both."