Civil Liberties

Saudi Writer Could Be Executed for Blasphemous Tweets


After tweeting about the Prophet Muhammad, 23-year old Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari could face the death penalty for blasphemy. His tweets ignited a firestorm of controversy in Saudi Arabia, leading to over 30,000 tweets in less than 24 hours. In response, Kashgari lost his job as a columnist for the Jeddah-based al-Bilad, while the Saudi Information Minister has censored reprinting and carrying Kashgari's writings. Meanwhile, Saudi Sheikh Nasser al Omar pulled a Ed Muskie as he asked the Saudi King Abdullah to execute Kashgari for his "apostasy."

Al-Jazeera has translated a few of Kashgari's tweets:

On your birthday I find you in front of me wherever I go, I love many things about you and hate others, and there are many things about you I don't understand.

On your birthday I won't bow in front of you, I won't kiss your hand. Instead, I will shake it as an equal, I will smile at you and you will smile back and I will talk to you as a friend, no more.

All the great gods that we worship, all the great fears that we dread, all the desires that we wait for impatiently are but figments of our imagination. No Saudi women will go to hell, because it's impossible to go there twice.

Kashgari has since deleted the tweets and has recanted:

I deleted my previous tweets because after I consulted with a few brothers, I realized that they may have been offensive to the Prophet (PBUH) and I don't want anyone to misunderstand.

I swear to God, I wrote what I wrote because I love the Prophet, but I made a mistake and I hope that God forgives me and all those who were insulted forgive me as well.

After receiving death threats and finding his home address leaked to the public, Kashgari fled the country and sought asylum. However, he was just arrested in Malaysia. His extradition is currently being coordinated with the Saudi government. If he returns to Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Fatwa Committee is calling for Kashgari to be punished in accordance with Sharia law, which could be execution.

Reason on Islam and censorship. Human Rights First on blasphemy laws worldwide.