Re: I've said it before ...and you'll say it again and still be wrong
"Organized religion is the root of all evil."
Rubbish. It is often the crutch of despots, thugs and thieves, and useful for manipulating those who can't think for themselves. But it is clearly apparent that those who wield the power and line their pockets rarely believe in or abide by the rules they demand of their followers, and always have a very selective view of how and sacred texts are interpreted and applied.
If Islam weren't around, the people of the Middle East would still be conducting bitter, violent civil conflicts on tribal, nationalist or political grounds. The current level of brutal violence, impoverishment and suffering in the region is proof that (a) there probably isn't a god, and (b) if there is a god, it certainly isn't one that anybody out there claims to worship.
And that's why Raif Badawi is in trouble, because the vermin that govern Saudi Arabia are a non-democratic elite, whose hold on a very fast growing population is weakening fast. The falling oil price isn't going to do them any favours in buying bread and circuses, and the Saudi "royals" need to pretend to support their home grown form of Islam as part of a Faustian pact between Wahabist clerics and the governing families. Without the combination of the "religious police" intimidating the population, and the Roman games style distraction of persecuting people that don't matter like Raif Badawi (or other expendables like foreign nationals working as domestic servants, or the very victims of rape and sexual violence), there would be every possibility that the population might get bored and dissatisfied, and then overthrow the royals, sticking their heads on poles where they belong. The Saudis behead people at the rate of more than one a week, and it is still regarded as public entertainment by many out there, so I'm sure if the current "royalty" are overthrown they'll draw a good crowd.
Given all this, Badawi's fate doesn't matter to the Saudi government, nor does international opinion, what matters is keeping him alive for a good bit to create some distracting soap opera for the peasants and make it clear that dissent will be stamped on.
Meanwhile the US continues to trade with, encourage, arm and support Saudi and the other Gulf states even as they bankroll Islamic State.