The world’s media isn’t paying a lot of attention to a Saudi Arabian journalist facing death for blasphemy for his inconsequential musings on Twitter.
Toronto’s Farzana Hassan is one of the few writers who’s taken up the cause of Hamzi Kashgiri, who was deported from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia even though the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.
He was deported 3 hours before Malaysia’s High Court ruled he should not be deported.
Those most incensed about Saudi Arabia wanting to execute this guy are organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, FrontLine Defenders, and a group called Electric Frontier Foundation.
But these groups can be ignored — they’re always protesting. It’s “friendly” governments that occasionally persuade the Saudis to rethink killing certain people whom in our part of the world are considered innocent.
So what did this rascal Kashgiri do that so inflamed the Grand Mufti, the religious police, Islamic extremists and Saudi King Abdullah?
Kashgiri put on his Twitter account an imaginary conversation with the Prophet Muhammad, treating him as an equal and not a divinity. He admired Muhammad’s rebellious spirit but wrote “I shall not pray for you.”
We are told that Saudi Muslims are enraged at Kashgiri’s impudence, or apostasy, in three of his tweets, one of which says: “I shall not kiss your hand, rather, I will shake it as equals do … I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.”
Informal, mildly irreverent but respectful. No demeaning of the Prophet.
When Kashgiri’s tweets appeared in the Saudi daily al-Bilad, reportedly King Abdullah was furious and ordered that Kashgiri be arrested “for crossing red lines and denigrating religious beliefs in God and His Prophet.”
The newspaper announced he’d been fired a month earlier — whew, get out of the line of fire, eh!
Initially, Kashgiri said he was just practising his “human rights” and that many in Saudi Arabia think like him (probably true, which explains the venom of the establishment).
Since then, he’s apologized, deleted his Twitter account, and asked for sanctuary in New Zealand. He was nailed en route in Malaysia, which is supposed to be a “moderate” Islamic country.
One report says that within the first week of his fictional chat on Twitter with Muhammad, 13,000 Saudis had signed a petition calling for his execution.
Most Islamic scholars (and certainly those in Saudi Arabia) are said to agree that apostates must be executed, and that the law cannot be overturned since Muhammad himself had ordered the penalty.
Apart from the scandal of putting this young man on trial, Malaysia’s behaviour has been cowardly and odious.
It seems an international group called the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) is leading the charge against Kashgiri, determined to punish any criticism of Islamic religious practices, no matter how mild such criticisms may be.
In its UN resolution, OIC changed the wording from “combating defamation of religion” to “combating intolerance” — while practicing the essence of intolerance.
UN Resolution 16/18 reads: “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” None of which seems to apply to Hamzi Kashgiri.
Now that he’s back in Saudi Arabia, Kashgiri has vanished from view. An unperson, with brave individuals like Farzana Hassan willing to risk extremist retribution for defending him.
(source: Toronto Sun)