Have you heard about the 23-year-old Saudi journalist who tweeted an imaginary
conversation with Muhammad? It went something like this: He loved Muhammad, he
hated Muhammad, he couldn't understand Muhammad, he wasn't going to pray for
Muhammad. If this isn't exactly a disquisition on faith and doubt a la "The
Brothers Karamazov," remember, we're just talking Twitter.
The journalist received so many mostly white-hot angry tweets from
co-religionists condemning his Islamic law-breaking "blasphemy" (30,000 in 24
hours!) that he apologized and fled the country. He hoped to seek asylum in New
Zealand but was captured in Malaysia by Saudi agents who returned him to "the
Kingdom." There, according to Shariah (Islamic law), he now faces the death
penalty for "blasphemy."
If you haven't heard of this young man, whose name is Hamza Kashgari, it could
be because you're watching too much Fox News. As of this writing, almost a week
after the Kashgari story broke, I haven't found a single story about it at the
Fox News website. (You try: www.foxnews.com.) Meanwhile, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC
and CNN have all reported the Kashgari story, clueing in their viewers on how
far totalitarian Islam, Saudi style, will go to exert its control over the
human spirit. But not Fox.
Say — you don't suppose the fact that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the
second-largest block of stock (7 percent) in News Corp., Fox News' parent
company, not to mention a new $300 million stake in Twitter (almost 4 percent),
has anything to do with Fox's silence on this Saudi black eye of a story? After
all, it was Saudi dictator King Abdullah — Alwaleed's uncle — whom press
accounts credit with ordering the tweeting journalist's hot pursuit and
imprisonment. And it is Saudi Arabia's adherence to Islamic limits on free
speech that is driving Kashgari's ordeal.
Maybe it has become institutional Fox thinking to let such news slide for fear
of offending the Saudi prince — or for fear of risking the kind of exposure
that might remind viewers of Fox's connections to Saudi regime interests via
As I've argued in the past, it is these connections that make it incumbent upon
News Corp. to register as a foreign agent. (So, too, should universities that
accept Saudi and other Islamic millions to open departments of Islamic
studies.) Fox's silence on this bell-ringer of a story reinforces the sneaking
suspicion that, conscious or not, there may be an Alwaleed effect on Fox
coverage which, in a conflict of interest, actually serves the House of Saud
before Fox viewers.
Prediction: I don't believe Hamza Kashgari will be executed or even face hard
time for his Twitter "blasphemy." Despite widespread enthusiasm for his demise
among his fellow Saudis — at last count, a Facebook page titled "The Saudi
People Demand Hamza Kashgari's Execution" had a whopping 23,000 members — I'm
guessing Kashgari's already publicized repentance will be accepted by Saudi
poobahs. The crisis will likely end in a gesture of royal magnanimousness. The
new "moderation" of the Kingdom — see, they don't kill you for tweeting! — will
become the story of the day, maybe even "fair and balanced" enough for Fox News
to cover it.
That would make it a win-win situation, at least when it comes to Islamic law
enforcement: Saudi Arabia gets international "modernization" brownie points,
and no one dares break Shariah inside the country anyway, particularly given
the bloodthirsty scorn of the Saudi public. (Remember that Facebook community
of execution-for-"blasphemy" enthusiasts.) No "blasphemy," no "defamation," no
This same issue is part of a much larger story, a terrifying point of parley
between the Islamic world, as represented by the Saudi-based Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Free World, as led, still, by the USA. Why
terrifying? Any accommodation of Islamic so-called blasphemy law is an
unconstitutional erosion of American free speech.
I'm mortified to report that the USA, as represented by Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, is working itself into sync with the Saudi, OIC and,
apparently, Fox position that silence on Islam is golden. Last summer, Clinton,
while meeting with the OIC in Turkey (where they throw journalists who cross
the state in jail) to discuss "defamation" of Islam, promoted a de facto
censorship of Islam's critics by calling for "some old-fashioned techniques of
peer pressure and shaming, so that people don't feel that they have the support
to do what we abhor."
Funny, but I don't think Fox covered the secretary of state's menacing comments
about free speech. Not even a tweet's worth.
(source: Diana West, reviewatlas.com)