‘I want to break the walls of ignorance’,

Raif Badawi posted in his blog –

they threw him in a cell to teach him sense.


How simple Raif’s requests: freedom of speech,

the rights of women and minorities –

what platitudes to have to preach.


Raif’s wretched, filthy, lice-infested jail

with its stinking toilets and obscene graffiti,

has, he discovers on a sticky wall,


words that re-charge his resolution.

He reads with great astonishment

that ‘Secularism is the solution!’ –


exactly what he’d written in his blog –

and Raif Badawi’s fetid Saudi prison

fills for a moment with pure oxygen.



Mark Haworth-Booth


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4 Responses to Raif

  1. Frances Corkey Thompson says:

    Ah, the IT. So pleased to know it still exists. Good poem, Mark. Harrowing.

  2. Liz Willis says:

    So glad to see this powerful poem getting greater circulation. We need more like this to keep us all awake, however painful that wakefulness.

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