As many now know, a Saudi writer – Hamza Kashghari – is in deep trouble. He went on Twitter on or near the Prophet’s Birthday (which is not, incidentally, officially observed in Saudi Arabia, though it is a national holiday in many other Islamic countries) and made some unfortunate remarks. These remarks questioned the almighty. Under Shariah law, that is a major crime, apostasy (ridda or irtidad) one which can lead to execution if not promptly repented. Kashghari appears to have repented in that he took down his offensive Twits as soon as he was told how unwise they were and acknowledged that they were a mistake. But he also fled the country.

Too late. As Arab News reports, not only does he now have the highest religious authority in the Kingdom calling, literally, for his head, but apparently he offended King Abdullah as well [link goes to Arabic source].

Ifta wants Kashghari tried for apostasy
ARAB NEWS

RIYADH: In a new development in the case of Saudi writer Hamza Kashghari, who wrote a few tweets that were considered slanderous to Almighty Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Religious Edicts (Ifta) issued a strongly worded statement in which it said mocking Allah or His Prophet is a downright sacrilegious act, kufr (infidelity) and apostasy that should no go undetected, local daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported Thursday.

“Whoever dares make a mockery of Allah, the Prophet or the Holy Book undermines the religion and displays enmity toward it. It is the duty of the rulers to try such a criminal,” the committee said, warning Muslims to stay away from such practices so as to avoid exasperating God.

The committee issued its statement after a meeting under its chairman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Grand Mufti.

Various media pieces note that Kashghari fled to Southeast Asia. The Washington Post reports that he did, in fact, go to Malaysia, where an American human rights activist, David Keyes of Advancing Human Rights conversed with him by phone. According to Keyes, Kashghari has been detained by Malaysian authorities pending extradition back to Saudi Arabia.

Keyes notes that this case has the makings of an international cause cause célèbre. International jurists are starting to line up to argue against his extradition. If he ends up being sent back, there will be loud and broad international calls for mercy.

Non-prosecution does not seem to be an available goal. Because Saudi Arabia closely follows Shariah law, it will be compelled to follow its rulings. The Quran [2:217] appears to consider apostasy to be a serious sin/crime, but that is to be punished in the afterlife. Numerous ahadith, however, call for the death of the apostate. The question is under debate in various parts of the Islamic world, but for the ulema in Saudi Arabia, the question is settled.

Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari faces charge of blasphemy
after tweets about Muhammad
David Keyes

Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari was detained in Malaysia on Wednesday night and is likely to be extradited soon to Saudi Arabia, where he will be tried for blaspheming religion. Kashgari, 23, had fled the kingdom Monday after he received thousands of death threats. His crime? He posted on Twitter a series of mock conversations between himself and the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

… The tweets came to light last week around a celebration of Muhammad’s birthday, and Kashgari’s ordeal began. Hours before he was detained, Kashgari spoke to me by phone from the house in which he was hiding. “I was with sitting with my friends and one of them checked Twitter on his mobile phone,” he said. “Suddenly there were thousands of tweets of people calling to kill me because they said I’m against religion.”

Saudi Arabia is not exactly a theocracy: the religious leaders are not also the secular leaders. Islam is so important that the government does things like send out a quarter million copies of the Quran. But Islam and Shariah law are so intertwined in the Kingdom that religious judgments hold the force of law; many things which would be sins are also crimes. International human rights generally see sin as a moral failing and crime as a subset of those failings. Not all sins, however, are crimes. Certain things, like the ability to change or to leave one’s religion are seen as fundamental human rights, guaranteed to all mankind. Shariah law does not agree.

The recent years have seen conflicts over this issue in several countries. In some, human rights advocates have been able to exert sufficient pressure to save the lives of the apostates; in others, they have failed. We’ll have to see how the case of Hamza Kashghari works out, starting with his extradition.


February:10:2012 - 08:21 | Comments & Trackbacks (10) | Permalink
10 Responses to “Hamza Kashghari”
  1. 1
    Anon1 Said:
    February:10:2012 - 10:59 

    The King only issued the warrant after the conservative mobilization had forced his hand. Even the Ifta Council’s edict stopped short of “calling for his head”, though they said he must be put on trial in a Shari’a court. This isn’t about one guy’s musings on Twitter; this is a coordinated campaign to embarrass the King and force the government get back with the conservative program. It’s also been used as a pretext to try to “take out” some big-name “liberals” that the conservatives have been gunning after for years like Turki Al-Hamad and some liberal newspaper columnists.

  2. 2
    Sparky Said:
    February:10:2012 - 13:16 

    Anon1 wow! Man it runs deep…

    I’ve become a twitter moments ago and am trying to find saudi jeans twit where Kashgari’s mom is interviewed, but I had to run out and now I can’t find it.

    They tryin to get back to em good ole days when things were just peachy ah?!

  3. 3
    Sparky Said:
    February:10:2012 - 13:50 

    It is good they gave his mom time to talk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYjMCjra8ok I could somewhat understand most because they spoke saudi arabic…

    Anon1 I would agree there is a power struggle going on YES… BUT the King doesn’t need to feel embarressed…

    The problem is that Kashgari liked to read. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been in this mess if he just stuck his head in the Quran 24/7 and spent the majority of his time conversing with like minded sheiks. Perhaps if he would have died a martyr in Iraq or Afganistan his coutnry men and family could be proud…Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture or is it just me?

    King Abdullah if you do indeed believe in the true Allah this is a test. I pray compassion will trump as Light always trumps over darkness and Love over Hate. There does come a time when we have to stand up to the bullies and take a few blows, but they rarely will come back again after that and if they do you now know their weak points.

    If Kashgari were to go on trial in a decent country with transparent processes, I would feel confident but we know the Saudi courts are screwy. I wish the money going into the religious clerics would go into fixing the court system. Get some computers, software and educated well rounded educated people as judges!

    The people in the camp calling on blood have lost their way at some point even if they are bowing and prostating 5 times a day to Allah and putting their blessings on the Prophet. To be a Muslim or Not to be…that is the question but the real question is To be or Not to Be the “Prescribed” Muslim by the current powers that be. If as Raf put it in a comment on S|audi Jeans that we understand what Kashgari was putting sth into perspective that perhaps he understood better than the rest of us because he did study and apparently chose to think.

    Thinking is Dangerous!

  4. 4
    Sparky Said:
    February:11:2012 - 08:26 

    eveythings seems pretty quiet here…lol

    I find it amazing and would posit that there is a portion of the brain that is being obstructed in terms of understanding this issue properly…Some other portion of the brain has automatically kicked in the thought process has been totally distorted.

    I’m amazed with the amount of religous learning people go through and come out NOT understanding. Simply question that I asked on Saudi Jeans: “Did the Prophet Mohammad ask people to pray for him?” When I say FOR I mean did he ask people to pray to REVERE him or ALLAH. My answer based on my humble understanding is to revere ALLAH. In fact, it is said that if you pray for anyone other than ALlah on Judgement Day you will not be able to bow because only truth would prevail that day.

    NOT Kashgari’s ACTION but people’s REACTION is the WORST dawa proselytizing and publicity not only for Saudi Arabia but for the religion Islam!

    I think that King Abdullah and a decent prominent sheik whose brain hasn’t been hijacked needs to come on T.V. Where is the love and compassion for people’s fellow Muslims? This is really sick. I’m disappointed and disgusted not with a young man’s tweets but with the REACTION which reveals people’s souls.

    I did my first tweet last night and it was difficult as I kept getting a message “you need to be smarter” as I kept deleting words to get my 140 characters.

    I would never abandom my family or friends if they were in trouble. I can’t believe no one is speaking up for him. I guess he has found out who his real friends are…and I’m sorry they AREN”T MUSLIM

  5. 5
    Sparky Said:
    February:11:2012 - 09:43 

    Man I was trance dance and like lightening I was hit with revelation!

    I will tweet it later PERHAPSSSS Three days forbearance for the powers that be in saudi; thereafter, I got an ice cream paint job…lightening bullet

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFWII4FZSqk

  6. 6
    Irfan Said:
    February:12:2012 - 07:35 

    Quran prescribes no punishment for blasphemy in this world. In the Hereafter it’ a different ball game. The sharia law needs to be amended.

  7. 7
    John Burgess Said:
    February:12:2012 - 07:40 

    @Irfan: Well, that’s the problem… Shariah law is based on the Quran, of course, but that’s not its only source. Ahadith of various reliability–and I consider them all unreliable–also comprise an important part of the law. Several ahadith report that temporal punishment, even capital punishment, is prescribed. Even within the different school of Islamic law, there’s a difference, but I don’t think that will matter for Kashghari’s case.

  8. 8
    Michel Said:
    February:14:2012 - 11:45 

    sorry I’m coming late into the discussion but, when I first heard about that case, my first reaction was the one expressed earlier by Sparky:
    he said he would not bow down before Mohammad, he did not say Allah but Mohammad;

    what is wrong with that assertion ? How is it contrary to Islam ?

    Who can elaborate on that ?

  9. 9
    Sparky Said:
    February:14:2012 - 14:03 

    Nobody seems to be able to elaborate only to boast of how many supposed twitters are calling for retribution. The information minister was crying. Really…!!! Really!!! Really!!!

    It doesn’t matter and that is for ONE reason…One person connected TRULY connected to source is more POWERFUL than a MILLION who aren’t!

    Om Shanti

  10. 10
    Sparky Said:
    February:14:2012 - 14:15 

    Four words

    Ice Cream Paint Job maybe Raneemed tomorrowed

    Good Night

    Shanti Om Shanti

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