Saudi Arabia: Death threat against journalist for twitter comment

Hamza Kashgari

Saudi newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari (23) is in great danger of being killed - with or without a court verdict. His fate lies in the hands of blood-thirsty Saudi clerics.

Kashgari fled his country for Malaysia, after a highly frequented facebook site called for his death. But on 12th February, on his way to New Zealand, Malaysian authorities arrested him in Kuala Lumpur airport and handed him over to Saudi authorities.

The young man is accused of insulting the prophet on twitter. His controversial entry, tweeted on prophet’s birthday, reads: "I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you. I will not pray for you." He quickly deleted the Mohammed tweet and apologised, when more than 30.000 responses bombed in, among them outraged Saudi clerics calling him an apostate and infidel. The controversy spread like wildfire and spilled over to youtube and facebook, where a site was created to call for his death. In Saudi Arabia, apostasy is considered a crime against Allah and punishable by death. Amnesty International has declared Hamza Kashgari a prisoner of conscience and demands his immediate release.

Though there is no formal extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, the government of Malaysia – supposedly a moderate Muslim country – was quick to send Kashgari back, thereby sealing his fate. The extradition was not only inhuman, it was also unlawful. Kashgari’s lawyer had secured a court order in time, preventing the deportation of his client from Malaysia. But Malaysian authorities forcefully stopped the lawyer from entering the airport before Kashgari was flown out.

[12th February, 2012]