A lot of time I have been asked why I take part in the campaign for Raif Badawi considering that there are so many other people in this world that are affected by some sort of injustice just as much as he is. However it is important for me to state that my involvement has soon gone beyond that point. It is just that Raif Badawi despite being imprisoned has awakened my thoughts and has caused me to read and to speak up, to get aware about human rights issues of today’s world.
But it is difficult for me to explain why it is exactly Raif Badawi that made this happen. That’s mainly because it is a decision which my heart made. It is something like love, but on a higher and more spiritual level. It was just a feeling which said me that I can’t just ignore this; I need to do all which is in my power to help this man.
One possible explanation is the story that I am writing. It’s about Czechoslovakia at the time of communism. While developing it, one of my main characters has become particularly dear to me: Jiří. And in some way I found Jiří in Raif. They have many things in common – so many things that it is almost unbelievable that I had already drafted Jiří when I first read about Raif. And as I am aware about this being the other way round, sometimes when I realize how similar they are, it even scares me. When I talk about their similarities I am thinking about their attitude, their courage, the reaction of the respective government to what they have written or even the style in which their texts are written or their visual aspect. Just that Jiří wasn’t flogged or even had to be afraid of the death penalty.
To stay with the environment of my story – the most important representative of dissent in Czechoslovakia is probably Václav Havel who, too, had to pay a high price for his involvement in human rights issues. He already was politically involved before, discussing politics and such, but his significant engagement about human rights began around 1977 when he and other dissidents drafted the famous petition known as Charta 77. And exactly in these days I have read in his biography that Havel’s involvement too was awakened by a particular case which is even more special than Raif Badawis case, because Raif’s ideas are capable of winning a majority whereas the case here is the one of a minority which has a low reputation even among the more progressive or intellectual people: a music group called “Plastic People of the Universe” whose music resembles more noise than music (Here is a small example) and who lived a hippie-like lifestyle. But he realized that human rights such as freedom of expression should be there for everyone – no matter what they do, how they look like, as long as they are peaceful and don’t harm anyone. And Havel himself had the similar particular feeling through this case as I had it with Raif’s. He wrote about that process: It doesn’t often happen and normally only in moments when only a few calculate with it: somewhere it makes click and an event – thanks to its own preconditions and more or less accidental external circumstances – it suddenly exceeds the borders of its position in the usual banality, breaks through the crust of what it is supposed to be and seemingly also is and uncovers suddenly its innermost, hidden and in some respects symbolic meaning.
In a way that happened when I first read a rather small article about Raif in a newspaper which is available for free in Switzerland which besides this very article is mostly known for scandals and famous people and such.
One of the main reasons which makes his case different from many other cases is the cruelty of his punishment. Ten years of prison itself are horrible and absolutely not correct, but still it is something that happens way too often, which of course it shouldn’t either. But here we have these 1000 lashes which are added to the sentence and that is -considering this amount – nothing else than a death penalty on instalments. And that is where in my opinion definitely a red line is crossed. Because no one – if guilty or not – deserves such a brutal punishment.
In Raif’s case it is even worse because he has done no harm. I recommend to everyone to buy the small but important book with his thoughts as well as the one in which Ensaf Haidar tells the story of her husband and her. Soon also the latter will be available in English. Reading these accounts and thoughts is a really powerful and also touching way to get to know the personality of Raif Badawi as well as his ideas. I am convinced than anyone who is open to read this without any prejudice will soon see that he has done nothing wrong and most of all that he does not deserve to be closed behind thick prison walls and subjected to physical and psychological harm. He should rather be here among us and able to share his precious ideas with the world. Beside that it is also a really interesting insight in the society of his region.
As I already anticipated above the whole thing has soon gone beyond the life of a single man. He stands for many others as well. Or to say it with the words of Elham Manea (spokeswoman of Raif Badawi’s family who describes herself as a writer who stands for a humanistic Islam): He is being punished for being the conscious of his society. He is the one who is able to perceive the developments in his society and had the courage to put these observations and thoughts into words, not knowing that the response to his moderate attempt to create a small space of free reflection would be so harsh. This shows a lot about the status of human rights in a country whose biggest fear appears to be that its citizens could use the internet to debate freely about various issues as this could mean that more of these citizens could achieve consciousness and make their individual thoughts, or in other words that those in power would lose their monopoly of information control and opinion forming.
In a world that faces challenges of various kinds what we need is people like Raif who perceive the interrelations and developments around them and dare to speak up and share their ideas peacefully with the world. Because only like that positive progress is possible.
Now Raif needs the voices of all people in this world who consider human rights more important than profit and other more selfish issues, that are a sign of shortsightedness and unsustainability. Because after all Raif Badawi is being punished for standing for ideals that matter to us as well, they are already as much rooted in our society that we sometimes take for granted that they are respected. But cases such as the one of Raif Badawi, as well as many others, remind us that even in the 21st century it is not always the case that they are respected. This therefore shows us how important it is for us to speak up for these ideals. Now has come the time for us who have the possibility to do so, to stand on the side of the likeminded people who dare to share their points of view despite the risk of persecution. Because after all only together, united as one, we can find solutions bearable for all of us and put to and end the negative tendencies that can be found all over the world and which might in the end affect all of as. Raif Badawi and all other persecuted for being the conscious ones of their societies and after all simply all beings living on this planet deserve that we, too, achieve consciousness.
Based on thoughts written down in June 2015
This date does not only mark the anniversary of the People’s Uprising in East Germany – today is also the day on which Raif Badawi has spent three years in prison.
That’s why I have decided to dedicate another text to him. Due to the latest news from Saudi Arabia the situation though looks very differently compared to the one on the day when I started to write down the first thoughts to this text.
But in reality aside from the fact that now there is only a single possibility to set aside this sentence – an intervention by the king – to this day not much has changed. Raif Badawi has been in prison since three years now, which means that from this time on he hasn’t had much of a life anymore, at least none which deserves this name. The powerful and influential of his country have deprived this man already of three years of his life – three years that can’t be given back. And according to the sentence that now has become effective seven more are supposed to follow. That means if he will live to see them at all. Then if the death penalty on instalments, which hides its true character by hiding the name it actually deserves, is executed as intended, is that not guaranteed.
It is true – so far Raif Badawi hasn’t been flogged anymore – although it is not clear for which reasons. Until the morning of the 7th of June it had become an ordinariness to wait each Friday for that reassuring message, for many of us the fear has become less big than in the first weeks of January and February. The confirmation of the Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia has brought us back to the ground of reality and showed us that the risk is still there, in the same way as it was there in the second week of January this year and the reaction from official side haven’t been sufficient yet to achieve a release.
This is and stays the only acceptable solution. Although Raif Badawi hasn’t been hurt physically since the 9th of January, one has to consider what this uncertainty about what will happen now, if and when these remaining 950 lashes will be executed which reaches its peak each Friday again, now means to this young Arab and how nerve-racking that has to be for him. That is nothing else than psychological torture. After all since January he has been in an empty space without indications how the future will look like, no dates as tangible fixed points in immediate future and has to be prepared for the worst every single week. This fear increases of course even more due to said court decision; the situation appears to be more hopeless than ever.
Nevertheless there are still glimmers of hope. The Saudi government for example already can’t ignore the case anymore for a long time and finds itself constrained to repeat over and over again that the human rights are guaranteed in its country. The fact that despite the sentence and corresponding reports by domestic media the flogging hasn’t been executed last Friday suggests that the public opinion doesn’t go unheard.
That all is a good start. But now it is even more important to insist and stand up for a release of Raif Badawi more than ever – even if that means that our governments for once have to put their own economic interest on the bottom of the list.
Raif Badawi is a peaceful man, who is punished solely for having the courage to have his own opinion and to share it with the world around him even if he discusses topics which are taboo for certain not irrelevant population groups of his country. It is absolutely desirable that Raif Badawi can be soon reunited with his family and will be able to live a normal life. That also is the place where he deserves to be – with his wife and his children in the first place but also because that means that he would be able to speak out his thoughts without fear of further repression and to share them with people who are just as concerned about the fate of the world.
The original German version can be found here:
One year, that’s a lot of time. When I ask myself how my life has looked like one year ago, the answer is rather simple. I was in the middle of my final exams at the gymnasium. When I look at this time which passed since then, I soon discover that my life now looks completely different. This year brought me new friends, new inspiration both for my story as well as for my life in general, different challenges, problems, sorrows, but also new motivation, new energy, new priorities… To say it shortly: I stand at a different point in life.
But there are people whose life at first glance hasn’t changed that much. Raif Badawi is one of them. He still is in the same prison cell, he still has to bear the same heavy weight of this incredibly harsh sentence which was pronounced one year ago. And despite this situation which seems so hopeless, he hasn’t given up which makes me so impressed.
When I looked at it closer, I realized that despite the sentence is still the same, indeed something has changed. Over the last months a lot of good and caring people heard about Raif’s fate and were deeply moved if not shocked and decided to show in some way their sympathy towards him and tried to contribute in some way to his release.
In the occasion of the anniversary of the pronunciation of this sentence which leaves us without words still today, I would like to write some lines for Raif and those who are near him:
Whatever the future will bring now, we will think of you. So whenever anxiety or despair comes over you and makes you feel lonely or weak, remember that you are not alone, there are people from all over the world with different beliefs, different opinions, which are united by the concern about your fate. They think of you each single day and give all that is in their power to make the impossible possible. It is the dream of us all to see you united and being able to share your thoughts without any fear of repression.
The same positive energy I also dedicate to all those in this world who are in a similar situation as Raif and his family. I am totally aware that there are many others who are condemned to similar suffering because they simply expressed themselves peacefully. Some I know almost as well as Raif, of many others I don’t know even the name.
Therefore I would like to end this text with my most quoted line of my favorite musical of which there is a song for so many feelings I have in my heart:
“There is a flame that never dies,
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.”
Les Misérables – Finale
Every day in the war zones there are hundreds of people dying. Many others each day are tortured, mistreated or are behind bars because they have insisted on their right of freedom of expression. Why should we, considering this situation, concentrate exactly on Raif Badawi? Aren’t there more important things on this world which should be resolved?
For weeks I’ve occupied myself with Raif Badawi’s case and try now to find answers to these questions.
In the past weeks I’ve been told several times that the question arises why one tries to achieve the release of a single man, while in Syria and elsewhere there are dozens of innocent people being killed each day and in China, North Korea and elsewhere human rights abuses are the order of the day. Although it is no longer just about the life of a single man. Raif Badawi has become the symbol for freedom of expression. After all he has only criticized the system he lives in. He did that in a peaceful and non-violent ways as he founded a discussion forum on the internet. The reaction of the Saudi judiciary turned out all the harder, which through this has become the symbol of arbitrariness.
Raif Badawi’s case has opened the eyes of many people in the West. Not all of them were aware that the strategic ally of the USA and the West is a dictatorship which doesn’t allow any criticism of the system, no demands for more democratization and even less any different interpretation of Islam than its own. Some people I have talked with thought that Saudi Arabia has a similar legal system than the states in Europe. In reality in this country reigns one of the strictest applications of Islamic law. Methods of punishment such as beheading or flogging are the order of the day. In this connection Raif Badawis case has indeed had some effect. Thanks to the attention dedicated to his fate the Western public has learned about the general human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. We should not forget that Raif Badawi is far not the only one. Some organizations speak about thousands of political prisoners only in Saudi Arabia. But how should we stand up for someone of whom we don’t know even the name? There always need to be cases which stand symbolically for the other ones as well. That was the same about Nelson Mandela in South Africa and also Václav Havel stood for many others in Czechoslovakia. They too were not the only ones. In this case it is Raif Badawi who is given this part.
To criticize the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean that we agree about all procedures at home. The right to freedom of expression does for example not mean that one can insult his environment at one’s discretion. But that is a completely different story again. To advocate for a release of Raif Badawi and other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia is neither based on hate towards Islam or other religions. Who treats his critics in such a way, inevitably causes resistance, as this methods of punishment evoke memories of past times which we in Europe left behind a long time ago. Even more horrible is that elsewhere they are still the order of the day. That doesn’t have to do much with Islam as such, that would be the same in any other case as well. No religion, no ideology and no other reason justifies such human rights abuses. Everyone should be allowed to believe in whatever he wants to as long as he doesn’t do violence to anyone else.
Another argument, which is also often used by politicians who advise against an intervention in the case of Raif Badawi, is that in a time in which there are so many conflicts in Middle East we should keep Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally as it is a comparatively stable country and the case of Raif Badawi is a too small disruptive factor to risk the good relations. In my opinion one should no longer look away when it comes to human rights abuses in Arabic countries. That would not be the first time in history when one looked away for too long. It doesn’t concern Raif Badawi alone, but thousands of other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia as well as in the neighboring countries. And then there are the women who are suppressed mercilessly in Saudi Arabia. Should we really continue to ignore this and happily proceed in exporting arms in these countries? One should also not forget that this important strategic ally in the struggle against terrorism ideologically seen has something in common with the Islamic State. And the new laws, whose original purpose is to prevent crimes related to terrorism, are used primarily used to silence critics of the regime.
From the above mentioned can be concluded that it will be important also in the future to stand up for Raif Badawi, as this Saudi Arabian blogger stands for much more than his personal fate. He stands for freedom of speech and for many other unjustly persecuted people in this world. Who just watches any longer, how injustice happens in Saudi Arabia reduces himself to an accomplice of said regime. To get involved for Raif Badawi does mean though to stand up for said persecuted people all over the world just the same. To save all the people of this world who are in danger is virtually impossible. One has to start somewhere. And Raif Badawi’s case is a good initial point.
You find the original text in German here:
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.
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?