Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Saudi Gazette ignores "apostate" story

The Saudi Gazette, which is part of the Okaz Arabic news service, has completely ignored the story about Hamza Kashgari, the Saudi who now faces a death penalty for his tweets about Mohammed.

Arab News, another English-language Saudi daily, has given the story a little coverage, including this one about how many sermons last Friday were dedicated to bringing Kashgari - and his supporters - to Muslim-style justice:
Imams of mosques in Makkah were unanimous in their Friday sermons on the necessity of bringing Saudi columnist and writer Hamza Kashgari to justice for making insulting comments about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on Twitter.

Kashgari fled to Malasyia after realizing that the deletion of his slanderous comments and the repentance he had announced in his tweets were not enough to save his neck. He was arrested on arrival at Kuala Lumpur airport on Thursday.

Worshippers, many of them in tears, were in agreement with their imams calling for bringing Kashgari to justice for his blasphemous tweets about the Prophet, local daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported Saturday. The article said the worshippers expressed happiness over the government's move to arrest the blogger and bring him to justice.

The Malaysian police confirmed the arrest of Kashgari as part of an Interpol operation under the request of Saudi Arabia but did not disclose if he would be extradited to his country.

The imams and the worshipers strongly denounced the slanderous comments against the Prophet and said anyone who dared to badmouth the Prophet should be severely punished to deter others from doing the same.

Some of the imams dedicated their entire Friday sermon to attacking the blogger and calling for his trial, while others strongly warned against insulting the Prophet in words or deeds. Some of the imams were not able to hold back their tears while defending the Prophet, recalling verses from the Qur'an warning against attacking Allah or His Prophet.

"The unison between the imams and the worshipers against this heinous act is a crystal-clear indication that attacking the Prophet is a red line no one should cross or come close to," a worshiper said. He did not want to be identified.

A number of worshipers said they were determined to file lawsuits against Kashgari in Shariah courts calling for his execution on charges of apostasy.
The 23-year-old Kashgari has become notorious overnight because of his sacrilegious tweets he had later deleted. Various sections of Saudi society have been asking for his immediate trial. A number of Saudis have also called for the trial of all those who tweeted support for Kashgari saying they were equally guilty.
"Those who supported the contents of Kashgari's tweets are considered criminal exactly like him," said Khaled Abu Rashid, a lawyer and a legal consultant. He said the sentence to be passed on Kahgari should be imposed on his supporters too.
It is worthwhile to remember that even though Arab countries have what appear to be a free English-language press, in the end there is plenty of censorship - self-imposed or otherwise.