Sunday, February 12, 2012
Malaysia deports tweet row Saudi journalist
Hamza Kashgari, wanted in his home country for tweeting remarks about Prophet Mohammad, has been extradited.
Malaysia has deported a young Saudi journalist who is wanted in his home country over Twitter posts about the Prophet Mohammad that sparked calls for his execution, the Malaysian government has confirmed.
Hamza Kashgari, who was detained in Malaysia on Thursday after fleeing Saudi Arabia, left the country in the custody of Saudi officials on Sunday, a statement of the Malaysian Home Ministery said.
Kashgari, a 23-year-old Jeddah-based newspaper columnist, fled to Muslim-majority Malaysia after making comments on the microblogging site deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, which fuelled a surge of outrage in the kingdom.
Kashgari apologised for his comments and said he was being made a "scapegoat for a larger conflict"
Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
The Home Ministry statement said: "Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other, and Mohammad Najeeb A. [Hamza] Kashgari will be repatriated under this arrangement.
"The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities."
Muhammad Afiq Mohamad Nor, a lawyer appointed by Kashgari's family, said the move was unlawful because he had obtained a court order to block the deportation.
"We are concerned that he would not face a fair trial back home and that he could face the death penalty if he is charged with apostasy, the lawyer told the Associated Press news agency.
Clerics and locals in the kingdom have called for Kashgari's death for three comments he made on Twitter on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
"On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more," read one tweet posted on Saturday.
All three tweets were later deleted by Kashgari, who received over 30,000 responses within a day of the postings.
Kashgari, who had originally apologised for his comments, said in an interview he was being made a "scapegoat for a larger conflict" over his comments.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged Malaysia not to send Kashgari back to face severe punishment and possibly a death sentence.
Malaysian human rights lawyer Edmond Bon expressed disappointment over Malaysia's action to repatriate the Saudi journalist amid death threats against him in his home country.
"It is disappointing that the Malaysian government had chosen to deport him to a potentially life-threatening punishment," he told AFP.
"Malaysia should have allowed him to seek asylum from the UN refugee agency to a country of his choice."
Christoph Wilcke, Human Rights Watch's senior Middle East researcher, said on Saturday that Malaysia should not be "complicit in sealing Kashgari's fate by sending him back".
"Saudi clerics have already made up their mind that Kashgari is an apostate who must face punishment," he said.
Rights groups have said Kashgari was en route to New Zealand when he was detained.
Pictures: Kashgari apologised for his comments and said he was being made a "scapegoat for a larger conflict"
Malaysia arrests Saudi blogger over tweets
Hamza Kashgari detained after apparently fleeing kingdom after being accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad on Twitter.
#HamzahKashghri sparks a polarising debate on Twitter
Tweets from a Saudi writer have some calling for his arrest, while others come to his defence.
A divisive debate on Twitter has ignited following comments made by a Saudi writer regarding the Prophet Mohammed. The tweets angered many who felt they were blasphemous.
Hamza Kashghri, a journalist who formerly tweeted under the name @Hmzmz, reportedly fled the country after many denounced him on Twitter using the hashtag #HamzaKashghri. Many hashtags inspired by his name have trended since February 3. One of them, #hamzahKashghryAlKaLB, translates from Arabic to “Hamzah Kashghry the dog.”
Saudi King Abdullah has also called for his arrest and trial. Some say the leader's statements were inspired by the online "lynch mob".
Before deleting his account, Kashghri publicly apologised on Twitter to those he offended.
Here are some of the highlights from around the web: