January 13 in freethought history…

ernestineroseJanuary 13, 1810 - Atheist, feminist and abolitionist Ernestine Rose is born Ernestine Louise Polowsky into a Jewish family in Poland in 1810. She began to question religious orthodoxy and traditional assumptions about women from an early age. After extricating herself from an arranged marriage, she eventually emigrated to England and married William Rose. The two moved to America, where she lectured frequently on women’s rights, religious tolerance and abolition of slavery. She and her husband returned to England due to health concerns, where she advocated for women’s suffrage. Rose died in England in 1892, aged 82.

January 13, 1886 – English activist and atheist Charles Bradlaugh is finally allowed to take his seat as a Member of Parliament, becoming one of (if not the first) open atheists elected to that body. Having been elected nearly six years before, he insisted on making an affirmation to assume his seat, instead of taking a religious oath, but was denied by Parliamentary committees. He refused to cooperate with their ruling, and was eventually arrested and forced to forfeit his seat. His constituents re-elected him in repeated special elections intended to replace him. Bradlaugh died in 1891, aged 57.

January 13, 1984 – Journalist and blogger Raif Badawi is born in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Badawi came to international attention in 2015, he received 50 lashes in public for supposedly “insulting Islam.” Badawi was convicted in 2013 for publishing articles critical of Muslim leaders and institutions, and was sentenced by a Saudi court to receive 1,000 lashes (to be administered 50 lashes at a time over 20 weeks), 10 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of more than a quarter million dollars. Saudi authorities have repeatedly postponed the second set of lashes due to his health problems (and no doubt also due to intense international pressures). Badawi’s wife and children have been forced to seek asylum in Canada, and his attorney has been persecuted by the Saudi government. Badawi remains in prison as of January 13, 2016.

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