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Thread: Saudi Journalist Facing Trial for Tweets About Prophet Muhammad

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    Default Saudi Journalist Facing Trial for Tweets About Prophet Muhammad

    A young Saudi writer, Hamza Kashgari, has fled the country for fear for his safety after receiving many death threats through the social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) Hamza is now detained by the Malaysian government after the King of Saudi Arabia requested his extradition to Saudi. We beg of you to help us prevent his extradition to Saudi Arabia, as this may threaten his life.

    The story started on Saturday (04-02-2012), when Hamza wrote three tweets regarding Prophet Mohammed's birthday (considered a religious day, albeit one frowned upon by the Wahhabi establishment).

    Hamza Kashgari (Arabic: حمزة كشغري) is a Saudi poet and a former columnist for the Saudi daily newspaper al-Bilad. He became the subject of a controversy after being accused of insulting the prophet Mohammad in three short messages published on the Twitter social networking service. King Abdullah ordered that Kashgari be arrested "for crossing red lines and denigrating religious beliefs in God and His Prophet." Kashgari left Saudi Arabia, trying to seek political asylum in New Zealand. He was deported from Kuala Lumpur back to Saudi Arabia on February 12, about three and a half hours before a Malaysian High Court injunction against the deportation was issued.

    Hamza Kashgari’s tweets, which have now been deleted from his account:

    “On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

    “On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

    “On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.”

    Kashgari’s controversial tweet last week sparked thousands of responses including several death threats.

    Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

    23-year-old Kashgari had fled Saudi Arabia last week and was detained upon his arrival in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

    Anchor Marco Werman talks to Saudi Arabian human rights activist Mohammed al-Qahtani about Kashgari’s arrest.

    Read the Transcript
    The text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to [email protected]. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.

    interview:
    Marco Werman: A young writer in Saudi Arabia is facing very serious charges because of a few tweets. 23-year-old Hamza Kashgari posted the tweets last week. They were written as a fictional conversation with the prophet Muhammad, and in Saudi Arabia that could constitute blasphemy and be punishable by death. Kashgari apologized for his tweets following the outraged reaction of thousands of Saudis, then he fled the country, but Kashgari was detained by authorities in Malaysia and deported back to Saudi Arabia yesterday. Mohammed al-Qahtani is co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association. He says Kashgari could be caught in a political crossfire in Saudi Arabia.

    Mohammed al-Qahtani: It has been a tug of war going on for years between the so-called Saudi liberals and conservatives. And the government has played a predominate role that you know, the government will appear as the dominant player that could sift these words and tell them when to stop, but I’m pretty sure that this young man is a victim of that war and they could use these tug of wars to go after him basically.

    Werman: His comments on Twitter came in the context of questions addressed to the Prophet Muhammad. What was he saying?

    Qahtani: First he made the comment during the day of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday basically, and he was saying there are things that I like about you, there are things I do not like; I will not bow to you, but I will extend my hand to you to shake your hand as a man to man…the comments to that extent, so basically it wasn’t so bad, but I think the conservative elements are outraged. And they even asked the government to go after the known liberal writers who have written something to that extent many years ago. So it will turn into a witch hunt no doubt.

    Werman: It sounds like in many ways it’s already turned into a witch hunt. I mean Kashgari has apologized apparently, but that hasn’t calmed things down, and judging from thousands of Facebook subscribers asking for him to be punished. Can you just explain how social media can be understood so differently inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia than the outside. I mean from the US it seems to be a human rights disaster.

    Qahtani: It is. You see, traditionally the Saudi government controls all the media, whether it’s TV, radio stations, and also the newspapers. But now we live in an age where you can make your own broadcasts basically, using these social medias. And I think they’re annoyed of course by this level of freedom where you can not only connect, but you could mobilize people, you could write stuff. And that’s why they passed several laws, they could hold someone accountable to some tweets that they’ve have written, or have posted at his website or his Facebook page for that matter. And we have cases for someone thrown in prison for months merely for expressing his ideas. So it’s really restrictions in the freedom of expression. So it’s an attempt also to scare off people not to go and write their own ideas, their own lines basically. Look, I was in an interrogation room a week ago representing one of the co-founders of our organization, and the interrogator looked at me and said, “Look, these tweets that you are writing, one day you’ll be tried for it. You know, there are laws that could criminalize you and whatever you write.”

    Werman: What were you writing Mohammed al-Qahtani that merited a comment like that?

    Qahtani: Well, we are concerned about the situation of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, the have broken justice system. Of course, we are doing it by encouraging people to file lawsuits against the government, so we’re not really keeping quiet about it, but we are trying to connect with the families of political prisoners to sue the government. And we are announcing on Twitter, on Facebook and elsewhere that we are taking these cases to the UN special reporters, and the Human Rights Council, so we are very public about it. And the government is really annoyed, so it’s not going to be a pretty picture, but I think we need to push the limit a little bit. For instance, if you go back to the case of this young man, Hamza Kashgari, one of the fears that I have is of course, he will not get a fair trial. A fair trial in this country is next to impossible because judges come from the conservative camps, prosecutors too. No attorney will take your case, so it’s a very difficult situation.

    Werman: Mohammed al-Qahtani, you’re using your real name and as you say, you were in an interrogation room last week just talking about what you’ve tweeted, what’s the risk to you and your safety for speaking about this whole topic with a western media organization like ours?

    Qahtani: You know, as Martin Luther King said, we fear no man, and I think we have went beyond the intimidation, beyond the fear that the regime is trying to play on us. I think the deteriorating human rights conditions in this country is in a very dire situation that we must try to improve it. So unless we take it upon ourself to change it things will not change by itself.

    Werman: Civil rights activist, Mohammed al-Qahtani, speaking with us from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Thank you very much for your time indeed, sir.

    Qahtani: Thank you very much.


    Reactions
    source:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/dea...t-and-blogger/
    Anger quickly exploded on Twitter with people claiming how offensive these tweets were to the Prophet (insulting the Prophet is crime punishable by death in Islamic law.) Within the same day, Hamza had deleted the tweets and apologized if his tweets offended anyone, and expressed that he only meant good.

    The next day, with death threats mounting, Hamza issued a letter of full repentance, renouncing all his former beliefs that he was accused for. After that he fled Saudi Arabia, managing to escape the warrant for his arrest by a few hours. He remained free as of my last contact but was eventually detained by Malaysian authorities. The issue has gone public in Saudi Arabia since the beginning as many popular religious figures have called for his prosecution and asked people to send letters to Prince Naif and Prince Salman complaining that something must be done.&


    Reactions (from wikipedia):

    The statements resulted in reactions that included over 30,000 tweets regarding the subject, a Facebook group calling for his execution that over 13,000 members have joined as of February 10, 2012,[19] and another Facebook group in support of him that over 1,500 members have joined as of February 12, 2012.[20] On February 5, Saudi cleric Nasser al-Omar called for Kashgari to be tried for apostasy, which is defined as a sin or crime by some religions and states.[6] The majority of Muslim scholars hold to the traditional view that apostasy in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment until repentance, at least for adult men of sound mind.[21][22] Several contemporary Muslim scholars, including influential Islamic reformers, have rejected this, arguing for religious freedom instead.[23][24] The YouTube video clip of al-Omar demand was watched over 650,000 times in the first three days.Following Kashgari's controversial tweets, racist comments in reference to his Turkmen family background were made against him on Twitter as "[not being] enough of a 'pure' Saudi".[26]


    Kashgari said that he had expected "not even 1 percent" of the reaction it elicited.[6] On February 6, Kashgari issued an apology[27] and deleted his Twitter, saying that "some like-minded friends have done the same."[6] According to Emirates 24/7, Kashgari's letter of apology[28] was published in many Saudi newspapers.


    Saudi Media Minister Abdel Aziz Khoja banned him from writing in any Saudi publication.[6][29] On February 8, The General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta, headed by Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh, issued a statement calling for Kashgari to be tried.


    Amnesty International,[2][19], Human Rights Watch,[32] Electronic Frontier Foundation,[33] Freedom House,[34] EveryOne Group,[35]and Front Line Defenders[36] called on the government of Malaysia to release Kashgari and not to extradite him to Saudi Arabia.[2] AI also called him a prisoner of conscience.[2] The European Union condemned his deportation, saying it would "[take] all appropriate steps to achieve a positive outcome of Mr Kashgari's case".


    Interpol denied any involvement in Kashgari's case[37][38] after news reports mentioned that Malaysia had arrested and deported him based on an Interpol request.[38] The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Royal Malaysia Police withdrew their claim of Interpol involvement. The Malaysian NGOLawyers for Liberty stated, "The initial claim of Interpol's involvement was a blatant attempt to varnish the arrest with a veneer of international legitimacy since the arrest could not be justified under international law as Hamza was clearly a political refugee."


    In mid-February, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, responded to the calls for Kashgari's execution stating, "We don't kill our sons, we talk to them." He listed "three points before [making] any judgments": verifying what Kashgari "really said", deciding if Kashgari's statements were "a form of misconduct, an expression of doubt, or an actual insult", and "if one repents it should be accepted".[39] On February 12, the Association of British Muslims called for King Abdullah to drop any charges laid against Kashgari, stating "Thought crime is no crime at all, ... Any state enforced penalty for perceived blasphemy runs contrary to the true spirit of Islam, and of our Prophet, peace be upon him, who was compassionate even to those who scorned him. ... No one should be legally prosecuted, imprisoned or detained for simply expressing themselves."


    On February 13, The Washington Post described King Abdullah's February 10 criticism of President Bashar al-Assad's actions during the 2011–2012 Syrian uprising to be hypocritical in comparison with his order for the prosecution of Kashgari and the killing by Saudi security forces of Muneer al-Midani[41] on February 9 and Zuhair al-Said on February 10[42] in political protests in Qatif.


    Kashgari and his lawyers believe that the calls for his execution may be politically motivated, as part of a crackdown on Saudi Arabian activists involved in the Arab Spring.


    As of February 17, 2012, 7,894 people had signed a petition calling for all blasphemy charges against Kashgari to be dropped.
    More on the story: https://docs.google.com/document/pub...qXStwXlcojMuI8


    sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamza_Kashgari
    http://www.theworld.org/2012/02/saudi-hamza-kashgari-twitter/
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/dea...t-and-blogger/
    Last edited by salmanshah; February 25th, 2012 at 04:27.

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    I dont know the accuracy of this report but one thing that I do know is that the king of saudia arabia is a ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤, he is an insult to islam. A bloody hypocrite.
    FTW!!!!!!!!!!

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    That idiod badshas is good only in one thing and that is laying under the feet of a usa president and ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤ their ¤¤¤.

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    What an idiot. Live in Saudi/citizen of Saudi and insult the prophet. When at rome, do as romans. Else it is your own damn fault.
    The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.
    Please do not PM me for support. You will NOT get a reply. Post in the relevant forum section.

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    They also have this time of punishment in Pakistan and Iran and some other countries.

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