(Montreal) Ensaf Haidar, the wife of blogger Raïf Badawi, who is still being held in Saudi Arabia after 10 years in prison, will attend a special screening in Vienna on Monday of the documentary Waiting for Raif in the Austrian parliament.

Ms. Haidar, who found refuge in Sherbrooke with her three children in 2013, has been fighting for her husband’s release since he was imprisoned in 2012 and sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of one million Saudi riyals for criticizing the country’s religious authorities.

Ms. Haidar recalled in a telephone interview that even though he is released from prison, Raif Badawi does not have permission to leave Saudi Arabia or speak publicly until 2032, which prevents him from joining his family in Sherbrooke.

“It was not easy for us, people have to understand how children live without their father,” said the woman who still advocates for Western governments to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to lift its travel ban. .

“One of the goals in making this film was to bring the story of Raïf Badawi back into the news,” said Patricio Henriquez, who co-directed the documentary with Luc Côté.

It is the Greens, an environmental political party that has joined the coalition government of Austria since 2020, who are behind Monday’s event which will mark the first anniversary of the release of Raif Badawi, said a press release.

For more than eight years, Viennese people have held vigils every Friday to denounce Saudi Arabia’s treatment of the Badawi family and the Saudi blogger.

“I’m happy, because the Austrians were with us from the beginning,” Haidar said, adding that the international support “helps for Raif, mentally, and also to change the ban on leaving the country.”

Asked why Austrian citizens are committed to this cause, Mr. Henriquez explained that Mr. Badawi’s story is “very well known in German-speaking countries”. “There is a trigger, it was Raif’s first flogging,” in 2015, he said. A video then went around the world, and “in the 21st century, seeing a human being flogged in the public square was something unbearable”.

The screening of the film Waiting for Raif will take place on April 24 at the historic Theophil Hansen Hall. The documentary observes from the inside the ordeals experienced by this refugee mother of three children, both in Quebec, her adopted land, and on the international scene.

Ensaf Haidar will speak at the end of the film.

She will return to Vienna in June, this time at the invitation of the Austrian Foreign Ministry and participate in an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights.

Waiting for Raif will also be presented in Montreal on May 2, at the McCord Stewart Museum, as part of Press and Media Week. A panel discussion with Ms. Haidar and the directors will follow the screening.

The feature film has already been presented in Germany, and both Mr. Henriquez and Ms. Haidar wish to participate in other international events of this kind.

“Don’t forget Raif,” she pleads.