‘I’m a proud Canadian’: Wife of jailed Saudi blogger sworn in as Canadian citizen

In this 2015 file photo, Ensaf Haidar, wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who has been flogged by Saudi authorities, takes part in a news conference in Ottawa. Haidar is set to become a Canadian citizen at a ceremony in Sherbrooke, Que. Sunday, July 1, 2018. Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

The wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is now a Canadian citizen.

Ensaf Haidar and her three children took the oath of citizenship in a Canada Day ceremony on Sunday in Sherbrooke, Que.

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The human rights activist could be seen raising her arms and waving to a cheering crowd as her name was called, according to video of the ceremony published on social media.

She later took to Twitter to declare, “Now I can say that I’m a proud Canadian.”

Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his criticism of Saudi clerics.

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He received 50 lashes in January 2015 during a public flogging but is not believed to have received any more corporal punishment since then.

Badawi’s sentence has drawn widespread international condemnation, and Amnesty International has called on successive federal governments to do more to free him.

Since Badawi’s arrest, Haidar has met with leaders in Canada and around the world while campaigning for her husband’s release.

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Earlier on Sunday, she told The Canadian Press that she was happy to become a Canadian, and felt her citizenship granted her and her children protection.

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“I’m very happy today is an official citizenship, because I’ve felt like a Canadian for a long time,” she said in a phone interview.

Haidar, who has been vocal in criticizing the Canadian government for not doing enough to free Badawi, said her favourite thing about Canada is freedom of speech.

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Her hopes for her husband’s release were raised a few months ago when she received word he was on a list for a potential pardon.

While that has yet to materialize, she said she’s staying optimistic.

“I still have hope that it’s going to be soon,” she said, adding that she hopes her new status as a Canadian citizen will help her as she pushes to secure her husband’s freedom.

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