In Janurary 2016 a grou p of MEPs read poems by Ashraf Fayadh at the European Parliament, in support of the Palestinian poet, who was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. This was part of an international campaign involving more than 120 events in 44 countries organised by the International Literature Festival Berlin.
The four MEPs who read his poems in this video were: Gabi Zimmer, Barbara Spinelli, Hans Reinhard Butikofer and Julie Ward. Julie starts at 03:31
Forunately, Fayadh's sentence was later reduced, but he still faces a brutal sentence of 800 lashes and 8 years in prison.
Julie joined with fellow MEPs in an open letter to the Saudi King to demand Fayadh's release.
The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
King of Saudi Arabia
Brussels, 8 February 2016
Members of the European Parliament have recently held a public reading to draw attention to the fate of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for his writings.
We feel relieved by the news that Mr Fayadh’s death penalty has been overturned. However, to our great consternation and concern, Mr Fayadh has been sentenced to another eight years in prison, as well as 800 lashes to be carried out in 16 sessions. On top of this incredibly harsh physical punishment, he must renounce his poetry on Saudi state media. This is a terrible, unjust alternative for a man, who has simply expressed his thoughts and feelings through poetry, and should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Additionally, throughout the whole process, Mr Fayadh was denied access to a lawyer, which is a clear violation of international human rights law, as well as Saudi Arabia’s national laws and has not helped his cause.
Your Majesty, we appeal to you to urgently grant freedom to Ashraf Fayadh. We strongly urge you to do everything in your power to revise Saudi legislation so that no one will be executed anymore for 'apostasy'.
Members of the European Parliament