A young Saudi journalist is facing calls for his execution after tweeting remarks about the Prophet Mohammed, and the kingdom's top clerics are demanding his trial after denouncing him as an "apostate."
On the occasion of the Muslim prophet's birthday last week, 23-year-old Hamza Kashgari tweeted: "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 added.
[Another reads: “No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice.” - EoZ]
The controversial tweet sparked a frenzy of responses -- some 30,000, according to an online service that tracks tweets in the Arab world.
In one response, Abdullah, a lawyer, said that since Kashgari was "an adult... we should accept nothing but implementing the ruling according to Islamic law" or sharia.
Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam, and is a crime punishable by death.So Kashgari, reasonably, fled Saudi Arabia in fear for his life.
Kashgari quickly apologised for his remarks, but the calls for his execution only multiplied.
A Facebook page entitled "The Saudi people demand Hamza Kashgari's execution" already has nearly 10,000 members.
A recent posting thanks the page's members for their support and calls for even more recruits.
"Our page has almost 10,000 members... but we need you to work harder. The prophet deserves more respect," said one post.
A committee of top clerics in charge of issuing religious edicts in the kingdom issued a statement calling Kashgari "an apostate" and an "infidel," and demanded that he be tried in an Islamic court.
The statement, released late on Wednesday, said: "Muslim scholars everywhere have agreed that those who insult Allah and his prophet or the (Muslim holy book) Koran or anything in religion are infidels and apostates."
It is therefore "the duty of our leaders to judge based on sharia law," which stipulates that an apostate must be sentenced to death, the statement added.
Unfortunately, he went to another Muslim country:
Malaysian authorities Friday said they had detained a young Saudi journalist who fled his country after Twitter comments he made about the Prophet Mohammed triggered calls for his execution.Would Interpol really help to hunt down an "apostate"?
Hamza Kashgari was taken into custody after flying into Malaysia's main international airport on Thursday, national police spokesman Ramli Yoosuf told AFP.
"Kashgari was detained at the airport upon arrival following a request made to us by Interpol after the Saudi authorities applied for it," he said.
Officials in Interpol's office in Malaysia could not immediately be reached for comment.
The state news agency Bernama said the 23-year-old Kashgari had been detained by Muslim-majority Malaysia "for allegedly insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed".