The spirit of the valley / Der Geist des Tals / Lo spirito della valle (SCL Tigers in NLA)

SCL Tigers in A

I am so proud that our village has a hockey team that plays in the best league of Switzerland.

That is what I said when I was a little girl. Already then I understood that it can’t be taken for granted that a village club to compete among the best teams. I always compared it to the soccer team which has been far away from the best leagues. I have grown up with a father who has always been passionate about hockey in a village in which this sport has always played a particular role since the foundation of the Schlittschuh-Club Langnau in 1946 which today is known as the SCL Tigers.

It is indeed something unusual that a village club like ours can play among the best teams of the entire country, which usually come from the cities such as Bern, Zurich or Geneva. There is only one other exception: Ambrì. In any case Langnau has something not every club from the city can offer. The Tigers have thousands of fans here in the region who keep being loyal to the club also in the most difficult situations. Indeed it means a lot to many people here, one can say it is the most important thing here in the entire valley where there is no big industry. It is something that holds the people together. Somehow almost every person here in Langnau feels connected to this club – of course not everyone in the same extent. Not everyone goes to the stadium to see every single game of the Tigers, but still some particular feeling is there. Even I have it, despite I have lost my heart to Ambrì more than nine years ago, the only club with a reality which is so similar to the one here in Langnau, which too has that spirit of the valley, just with some different essence which somehow made the difference for me. Nevertheless I have a different relation to the Tigers than to any other team in Switzerland. I remember well the day when I realized that the SCL would be relegated. That was the first time and the last time so far that I have cried for a team which is not mine.

That was two years ago. Since then I saw a team which is working hard to come back, I saw the only team in the whole National League B with such numbers of spectators. Also this time the fans stayed loyal to their club also in these times which were not so simple, which is not a matter of course. The Tigers dominated the NLB for the whole season and demonstrated that it is the NLA where they belong for real.

They also played surprisingly well against Rapperswil, the weakest team of NLA this year which approached step by step what I don’t desire for any team: relegation. The entire village was reunited in some sense of hope and belief. Soon a slogan appeared at different points of the village: from the bridge over the Ilfis to the showcase of the flower shop: Wär nid dra gloubt, isch ke Tiger (Who doesn’t believe in it is no tiger). It is a derivation of the original Wär nid gumpet, isch ke Tiger (Who doesn’t jump is no tiger), which one can often hear at the games in Langnau. And also conversations here in the village often lead to one topic: hockey. The decisive game then was held in Langnau. On this Thursday you could feel the tension everywhere while walking through the village. It was as if you could touch it. Fans walking towards the stadium in swarms, someone even told me that the cars were standing on some of the main roads until the entry to the village. That’s how it must have been like in the already far away glorious times when Langnau was one of the best teams in Switzerland, about which one can read in the chronicles of Swiss hockey. How much I would give to make a time travel to see this atmosphere, the origins of what our hockey is today.

In the end of the day the miracle became reality, after only two years of National League B the SCL Tigers will compete again among the best twelve teams of Switzerland. The pain, which their supporters felt back then, can be left behind and a new adventure can begin. I am looking forward to thrilling games in the Ilfishalle, although that also means new disputes with my father. Welcome back, SCL.

Ich bin so stolz, dass unser Dorf eine Eishockeymannschaft hat, die in der besten Liga der Schweiz spielt.

Das habe ich als kleines Mädchen gesagt. Schon damals war mir bewusst, dass dies keine Selbstverständlichkeit ist, dass ein Dorfklub unter den besten Teams des Landes mitspielen kann. Damals habe ich es immer mit unserer Fussballmannschaft verglichen, das von besten Ligen immer weit entfernt gewesen ist. Ich bin mit einem Vater aufgewachsen, der immer eine Leidenschaft für Hockey gehabt hat – in einem Dorf, in dem dieser Sport seit der Gründung des Schlittschuh-Clubs Langnau, der heute als SCL Tigers bekannt ist, immer eine besondere Rolle gespielt hat.

Es ist in der Tat etwas Ungewöhnliches, dass ein Dorfklub wie unserer unter den besten Teams der ganzen Schweiz zu finden ist, welche grösstenteils aus Städten wie Bern, Zürich oder Genf kommen. Der ist nur eine weitere Ausnahme: Ambrì. Auf jeden Fall hat Langnau etwas, was nicht jeder Klub aus der Stadt bieten kann. Die Tigers haben tausende Fans hier in der Region, die dem Klub die Treue halten – auch in den schwierigsten Situationen. Tatsächlich bedeutet der SCL vielen Menschen hier viel, man kann sagen, es sei die wichtigste Sache hier im ganzen Tal, in welchem es keine grosse Industrie gibt. Es ist etwas, das die Leute zusammenhält. Irgendwie fühlt sich beinahe jede Person hier in Langnau mit diesem Club verbunden – natürlich nicht jeder im gleichen Ausmass. Nicht jeder geht ins Stadion, um jedes einzelne Spiel der Tigers zu sehen, aber trotzdem ist ein besonderes Gefühl da. Sogar ich habe es, selbst wenn ich vor bereits mehr als neun Jahren mein Herz an Ambrì verloren habe, den einzigen Klub mit einer ähnlichen Realität wie diejenige hier in Langnau, der auch diesen Geist des Tals in sich trägt, einfach mit einer gewissen Essenz, die für mich den Unterschied gemacht hat. Nichtsdestoweniger habe ich eine andere Beziehung zu den Tigers als zu jeder anderen Mannschaft in der Schweiz. Ich erinnere mich noch gut an jenen Tag, als ich begriffen hatte, dass der SCL absteigen würde. Das war das erste und bisher letzte Mal, dass ich wegen einer Mannschaft geweint habe, die nicht meine eigene gewesen ist.

Das war vor zwei Jahren. Seit damals habe ich ein Team gesehen, dass hart daran gearbeitet hat, um zurückzukehren. Ich sah die einzige Mannschaft in der ganzen National League B mit solchen Zuschauerzahlen. Auch diesmal blieben die Fans ihrem Klub treu, auch in diesen Zeiten, die nicht so einfach waren, was keine Selbstverständlichkeit ist. Die Tigers dominierten die NLB während der ganzen Saison und machten deutlich, dass die NLA dort ist, wohin sie wirklich gehören.

Sie spielten auch überraschend gut gegen Rapperswil, das schwächste Team der NLA dieses Jahres, welches sich Schritt für Schritt dem näherte, was ich keinem Klub wünsche: dem Abstieg. Das ganze Dorf war vereint in einem gewissen Gefühl von Hoffnung und Glauben. Bald tauchte ein Slogan überall im Dorf auf, von der Brücke über die Ilfis bis zum Schaufenster des Blumenladens: Wär nid dra gloubt, isch ke Tiger (Wer nicht daran glaubt ist kein Tiger). Es ist eine Ableitung von Wär nid gumpet, isch ke Tiger (Wer nicht hüpft, ist kein Tiger), das man an den Spielen hier in Langnau oft hören kann. Und auch die Gespräche hier im Dorf führten oft zu einem Thema: Hockey. Das entscheidende Spiel fand dann in Langnau statt. An diesem Donnerstag konnte man die Spannung überall fühlen. Es war, als könnte man sie anfassen. Die Fans liefen in Scharen Richtung Stadion, jemand erzählte mir sogar, dass Autos auf den Hauptstrassen bis um Ortseingang stünden. So muss es gewesen sein in den glorreichen Zeiten, als Langnau zu den besten Mannschaften der Schweiz gehörte, worüber man in den Chroniken des Schweizer Hockeys lesen kann. Wie viel würde ich geben, um eine Zeitreise machen zu können, damit ich diese Atmosphäre fühlen, die Ursprünge dessen, was unser Hockey heute ist, sehen könnte.

Am Ende des Tages wurde das Wunder Realität, nach nur zwei Jahren Nationalliga B werden die SCL Tigers wieder zu den zwölf besten Teams der Schweiz gehören. Der Schmerz, den ihre Anhänger damals gefühlt haben, können sie nun hinter sich lassen und ein neues Abenteuer wird beginnen. Ich freue mich schon auf spannende Spiele in der Ilfishalle, auch wenn das auch neue Streitigkeiten mit meinem Vater mit sich bringt. Willkommen zurück, SCL.

Sono così orgogliosa che il nostro villaggio abbia una squadra di hockey che gioca nella lega migliore della Svizzera.

Questo è ciò che ho detto quando ero una bambina. Già quella volta mi ero resa conto che non si tratta di una cosa ovvia che una società di villaggio possa giocare contro le squadre migliori della Svizzera in Lega Nazionale A. Quella volta l’ho sempre paragonato con la nostra squadra di calcio che è sempre stata lontana dalle leghe migliori. Sono cresciuta con un padre che ha sempre avuto una passione per l’hockey, in un villaggio nel quale questo sport, ha sempre rivestito un ruolo particolare da quando nel 1946 è stato fondato lo Schlittschuh-Club Langnau che oggi conosciamo come SCL Tigers.

È davvero qualcosa d’insolito che una squadra di un villaggio come Langnau militi tra le squadre migliori del paese come Berna, Zurigo o Ginevra, ovvero le squadre delle città. Qui c’è solo un’altra eccezione: l’Ambrì. In ogni caso il Langnau ha qualcosa che non ogni società di città può offrire. Hanno migliaia di tifosi qui nella regione che restano fedeli al club anche nelle situazioni più difficili. In effetti significa tanto a tante persone qui, si può dire che è la cosa più importante in tutta la valle dove non c’è un’industria grande. C’è qualcosa che tiene unita la gente. In qualche modo quasi ogni persona qui a Langnau si sente legato a questa società – naturalmente non ognuno nella stessa dimensione. Non ognuno va allo stadio a vedere ogni singola partita dei Tigers, ma lo stesso c’è questo sentimento particolare. Pure io ce l’ho, anche se l’Ambrì mi ha rubato il cuore più di nove anni fa, l’unica squadra con una realtà simile a quella qui a Langnau, che ha anche questo spirito della valle, semplicemente con un’essenza diversa che in qualche modo ha fatto la differenza per me. Ciò nonostante ho una relazione diversa con i Tigers rispetto ad ogni altra squadra in Svizzera. Ricordo bene quel giorno quando mi sono resa conto che stava per essere relegato. È stata la prima e finora anche l’ultima volta che ho pianto per una squadra che non è la mia.

Questo è stato due anni fa. Da questo punto ho visto una squadra che lavorava duramente per ritornare, ho visto l’unica squadra in National League B con numeri di spettatori così alti. Anche questa volta i tifosi sono rimasti fedeli alla loro società, anche in quei tempi che così facili non erano, questo non è un’ovvietà. I Tigers hanno dominato la NLB per tutta la stagione e hanno dimostrato che è la NLA dove appartengono davvero.

Hanno giocato sorprendentemente bene anche contro il Rapperswil, la squadra più debole della NLA di quest’anno, che si avvicinava passo per passo a ciò che non desidero per nessuna squadra: la relegazione. Tutto il villaggio era unito in un certo senso di speranza e fede. Presto appariva un slogan in tutto il villaggio, dal ponte sull’Ilfis alla vetrina del negozio di fiori: Wär nid dra gloubt, isch ke Tiger (Chi non ci crede non è una tigre). È una deviazione del Wär nid gumpet, isch ke Tiger (Chi non salta non è una tigre) che si può sentire spesso alle partite a Langnau. E anche le conversazioni qui nel villaggio conducevano spesso ad un tema: hockey. La partita decisiva poi aveva luogo a Langnau. Quel giovedì si poteva sentire la tensione ovunque passeggiando per il villaggio. Era come se si potesse toccarla. I tifosi andavano a sciami allo stadio, qualcuno quella sera mi ha detto pure che le macchine erano ferme sulle strade principali fino all’entrata al villaggio. È così che dev’essere stato nei tempi gloriosi ormai lontani quando il Langnau era una delle squadre migliori del paese, quando hanno pure vinto il campionato, i tempi sui quali si può leggere nelle croniche dell’hockey svizzero. Quanto darei per poter fare un viaggio nel tempo per sentire quest’atmosfera, per vedere le origini di ciò che è il nostro hockey oggi.

Alla fine del giorno il miracolo è diventato realtà, dopo solo due anni di National League B, i SCL Tigers apparterranno di nuovo alle dodici squadre migliori della Svizzera. Il dolore che i loro sostenitori hanno sentito quella volta ora lo possono lasciare dietro se e una nuova avventura può cominciare. Io non vedo l’ora di nuove partite avvincenti nell’Ilfishalle. Bentornato, SCL.

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In nome dell’amore

Stamattina ho ascoltato In nome dell’amore di Paolo Meneguzzi, una canzone che conosco da anni, che in parte so cantare a memoria. Ma proprio stamattina l’ho interpretata in un modo completamente diverso.

Come stai
come sto
maledettamente bene
penso a te penso a noi e non vivo più
forse sei abile
a nascondere il dolore
forse no non lo so
ma ti aspetterò
guardami sono qui
tra l’inferno e il paradiso
non so più che anno è
cerco solo te
tutto sa di follia
ma è solo malinconia
vedo la realtà e vorrei che fosse una bugia
in nome dell’amore l’alba brucerà le porte della tua prigione
in nome dell’amore fai la cosa giusta, sì la cosa giusta anche se fa male
un giorno un’ora vorrei vederti ancora
un raggio di sole, in nome dell’amore

All’improvviso mi pareva di sentire i pensieri di Ensaf rivolti a suo marito. Lo so, ormai penso a Raif Badawi facendo qualsiasi cosa. Non è la prima volta che mi succede ascoltando una canzone. In ogni caso adoro la canzone ancora di più rispetto a prima, perché questa parte che ho citato qui rispecchia benissimo la situazione di Ensaf e Raif.

Why I started to get involved for Raif Badawi

I remember well that Thursday evening in January. It was just an ordinary evening like all the others. The train was packed with people, many of them were reading the free newspaper Blick am Abend. I don’t like the level of that newspaper very much but this time I was really caught by an article, only a small one. I don’t remember much of it anymore. But it was back then when I learned that a certain Raif Badawi is in prison in Saudi Arabia and should be flogged the following day just because he dared to express peacefully his opinion. The author, whose name I don’t know anymore, described this flogging as a “death penalty on instalments”, so I already saw him dying before my eyes. For the rest of the journey I couldn’t concentrate on anything else and even on the way home from the train station I was only speaking about Raif Badawi. It was in this moment when I sang for the first time the Finale of Les Misérables. And back then I meant it in its original meaning. That even if you suffered a lot in your life and eventually died, you might still have a better life in the Garden of the Lord.

Later I realized given he was still alive, what he is still today, I should get involved for his release. Why was it exactly him who caused me to get involved? Actually I can’t say it with a hundred percent certainty, it was just my heart who chose it to be like that. I just couldn’t stay indifferent. Probably it is because of that corporal punishment. Before reading about Raif’s case I hadn’t even known that there are countries who still speak out such punishments. We often hear about torture of innocent people, which prisoners of conscience are, but normally such mistreatment happens behind thick prison walls. What is even more appalling in this case is that it happens as part of the legislation of that country and is executed publically. Therefore after that day I could do nothing else than do everything that is in my power to help to save Raif Badawi.

Another day of these three months which I remember well is the day when I went the first time to a vigil in Bern, I had a really strong positive feeling. I realized that I am not alone fighting for this cause, that there are others who share the same ideals and I felt deeply connected to them although I had never seen them before. This gave me even more motivation to continue being involved for human rights in Saudi Arabia. I signed up for Twitter and I am raising awareness among all the people I know.

In these ten weeks or so I got to know many impressive people, above all those who we are standing with, Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair, as well as their families, as well as amazing people from all over the world. Most of them I have never met personally, not even the two most important ones, those we are actually involved for. But nevertheless there is something that connects us all which is difficult to be described. Maybe something like the hope for a better world, in a time in which one reads about terror, war, death in the news all the time. In such a time where you think hatred and other negative feelings would prevail (I mean the very reason why we are doing this all is because of hate and incomprehension towards different attitudes which even ends up in violence) I have witnessed so many positive feelings, so much love towards other people. Those feelings gave me so much positive energy which helped me even through the difficult situation where I thought I might lose hope because I realized that maybe what we all are doing still might not be enough to save Raif, that maybe he will die all the same. But I didn’t give up, I can’t stay silent anymore when injustice happens. And I know Raif needs us now more than ever. We shall continue to speak up for him, because if we don’t we just do what those in power in Saudi Arabia want us to do: to forget about Raif and go back to our daily concerns. But this is not the case. Not for me at least.

Because all this has given a new sense to my life. Speaking about human rights doesn’t not mean anymore that I am simply talking about what the characters in the story I am writing would do in communist Czechoslovakia. It has become something real, it’s not just fiction anymore. I believe that we all together can make a difference here when we speak up for human rights. Even if they are a matter of course for us here, especially our generation. We should be grateful to have the opportunity to be able to express our opinion freely. And we should use this opportunity not only to comment the dresses which some celebrities wear, we should speak up for those who don’t speak up, those who are prevented from doing so and those who don’t dare to express their opinion. We should raise awareness about cases like Raif’s one. We should share the ideas of thinkers like Raif who are too far ahead for the environment they live in. Because like that we make sure that the main intention of the system which is repressing them is not fulfilled, which is to silence them. During these weeks I have realized that I would like to make my contribution to this as well. Because I believe that there is a flame that never dies, that even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. That is what the song says that I sang on that first evening. Why don’t make it possible also for the life on earth?

Lashes for Freedom [One of the best articles on Raif Badawi that I’ve seen so far]

When I read this article yesterday I was truly impressed. So I thought I should translate it into English to make it available for more people who are concerned about Raif Badawi’s fate.

All rights to this text belong to Regina Spöttl from Amnesty International Germany and the article was first published in German here: https://www.amnesty.de/journal/2015/april/schlaege-fuer-die-freiheit

In Saudi Arabia the blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 1000 lashes because he spoke out for liberal reforms. In the kingdom applies an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam as religion of state – who protests against it, has to expect draconian penalties.

Midday was approaching on the 18th Rabi al-Awwal of the year 1436 AH, when guards in uniform brought a young man in chains on the square in front of the Al-Jafali mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. When the faithful had arrived in swarms after the Friday prayer, one of the guards hit with a long whip fifty time the back and the legs of the young man, who endured the torture wordlessly and visibly in pain. After the fiftieth lash the crowd scanned “Allahu Akbar” and dispersed.

What on the first glance appears like a medieval torture scene, didn’t take place many centuries ago, but in the 21st century. Because the 18th Rabi al-Awwal 1436 describes a date of the Islamic moon calendar and equals the 9th of January 2015.

The young man who was beaten up publically in front of the mosque is called Raif Badawi and is 31 years old. He has a wife and three children who live in exile in Canada and who haven’t seen their husband and father for three years. Raif Badawi was sentenced on 7th of May 2014 by a Criminal Court to ten years of prison, 1000 lashes, a fine of converted 195’000 euros and a subsequent travel ban of ten years. Over a period of twenty weeks he shall be flogged with 50 lashes always after the Friday prayer.

His crime: He had founded the online forum “Free Saudi Liberals”, a website with a blog, on which he exchanged his ideas about a more modern, more human, more tolerant Saudi Arabia with other courageous people.

Topics like politics, human rights, freedom of expression and religion, culture and the separation of religion and state as key to more freedom were discussed there. He thought the time is ripe for urgently needed reforms for a more liberal kingdom. As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas”, Raif Badawi wrote in his blog which now is shut down, “you will find hundreds of fatwas (Islamic legal opinions) that accuse him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.”

He even took another step forwards when he said: “The separation of state and religion is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world into the first world.” Every human being should have the right to choose freely his religion. Badawi sees religion as the personal spiritual relation between the individual and its creator and says that secular right like for example traffic rules and labour law cannot be deduced from religion.

In Saudi Arabia, according to Raif Badawi, the government claims the monopoly on the only and commonly valid truth. Liberalism is considered as basic evil, all people who belong to other religions are viewed as infidels and apostates. “But how can we have this attitude and have normal relations to the six billion people on this world of which four and a half billion are no Muslims?”

With that Raif Badawi has shaken at the to the very foundations of the autocratic Saudi Arabian state, which since the conquest of the Arab Peninsula and the first state foundation by Mohammed Ibn al-Saud in the 18th century is based on two columns: the royal house of the al-Saud and the “Council of the highest scholars of religion” (Ulama), which leads back to the religious founder Mohammed Abd al-Wahab.

Both balance out each other in this power structure. As long as the royal house maintains the strict ultraconservative form of the Wahabite Islam – which most of the time is only achievable by suppression – and as long as the Quran is the constitution of the country and the Sharia the unchallenged law, as long as that the clergy will not question the monarchy of the al-Saud.

Reciprocally the Ulama supports the royal house, for example by legitimating unpopular prohibitions with often absurd justifications and by defaming and obstructing science and research. Like that women who drive a car allegedly risk to become infertile and to lose their virginity.

In September 2011 Saudi clerics seriously claimed that there are Sharia astronomers whose knowledge about the universe are the only true and right ones. According to that a short time ago a lecturer declared in a course that the Earth doesn’t rotate but stands still. Who dares to criticise the clergy will be tried of “Defamation of Islam” and condemned to long sentences. Raif Badawi had among others made fun about the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”, the notorious religious police, and asked for reforms. The consequences are known.

Saudi Arabia is the country with the probably most rigid restrictions of the human right to religious freedom. The Wahabite Islam is religion of state; already the Shiite Muslims who are living mainly in the East of the country are likely called “infidels” and discriminated in daily life. The practise of any other religion is prohibited and is punished. Unlike the other Gulf States in Saudi Arabia you look in vain for Christian churches, synagogues or Hindu temples. Even the possess of a Bible or a Star of David is punishable.

No wonder thus, that Raif Badawi’s call for a secularization of the country made all alarm bells ring and had to be inhibited immediately. This explains also why the operation of a webpage and the writing of a blog were punished in a such draconian way.

Of Raif Badawi an example had to be made, also to show the limits to many users of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Because the cyberspace meanwhile has become a hard nut to crack for the censors, not every website can be controlled, many Facebook posts slide through the tight net of surveillance. “Twitter is our parliament” recently said a young Saudi hopefully.

The wish for reforms, more liberties and openness towards the world is big in the country. The Saudi Arabian women who still need the consent of a male legal guardian if they make an important decision, wish for equal rights and self-determination. And they finally want to drive a car.
But also here the authority strikes out without mercy. Women who are caught at the wheel of a car are put under arrest and can be charged and sentenced under the new antiterrorism law, also to lashes.

Driving a car thus is considered as a terrorist act, nevertheless the women don’t let themselves prevent from doing so any longer. The 21st century has arrived also in Saudi Arabia and the very young society – two thirds of the population are under 25 years old – wants to participate without any obstruction and finally get the many restrictions and bans out of the way.

Government critics and peaceful reformers however are in danger and often pay a high price for courageously advocating for freedom and human rights. For years the Saudi Arabian Government suffocates any criticism of dissidents. Almost all founding member of the human rights organisation ACPRA which now is banned were condemned to prison terms up to ten years. Notable reformers and human rights advocates, among them lawyers, former judges and university professors, are serving long sentences after unfair trials.

In February 2015 an appeal court confirmed the judgement against human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, Raif Badawi’s legal counsel and brother-in-law. He has to go to prison for 15 years because he had founded the human rights organization “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia” in 2008, which documented human rights abuses. Moreover he had defended many human rights activists in court. As many other prisoners, also Waleed Abu al-Khair had been tortured and abused under arrest.

Thus Raif Badawi is not the only nonviolent political prisoner in Saudi Arabia, probably the most known at the moment though. His fate has triggered a wave of indignation and compassion in the whole world. Hundred thousands of signatures so far could have been delivered at demonstrations and vigils in front of the Embassies of Saudi Arabia around the globe. The interest about his case is still overwhelming and the social networks are full with statements of solidarity for Raif Badawi and his family and appeals to the Saudi Arabian government to suspend the remaining 950 lashes and to cancel the verdict. Politicians from all over the world campaign for the blogger.

The good news: Raif Badawi hasn’t had to suffer any further lashes since the 9th of January 2015. The corporal punishment has been suspended temporarily, due to “medical reasons”, as it was stated. His case has been send back from the Supreme Court back to the Criminal Court in Jeddah. The process thus could be reopened, a date for a judicial hearing has not been set yet though.

As long as the verdict hasn’t been cancelled, Raif Badawi still is in highest danger. The cruel scene in front of the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah could repeat itself at any time on one of the coming Fridays. And not enough with that. At a resumption of the trial at the Criminal Court in Jeddah, Raif Badawi is in danger to be again charged with apostasy for which he might be sentenced to death.

Unless the new Saudi Arabian king Salman pardons Raif Badawi as part of an amnesty to his assumption of office and orders his immediate and unconditional release. Then the dream of Raif’s wife Ensaf Haidar and the three children maybe still could become reality: that they finally can take their husband and father in their arms again at the airport of Montréal.