Friday, February 17, 2012

Muslim Voices In Defense Of Hamza Kashgari

There actually are some voices being raised among Muslims condemning the persecution of Hamza Kashgari. This is certainly worth taking note of, at least for the sake of giving credit where credit is due.

by Tehmina Kazi
As of 6pm (UK time) today, 7,894 people had signed a petition urging the Saudi government to drop all charges of blasphemy against Hamza Kashgari, a columnist for the Jeddah-based daily Al-Bilad. Kashgari, 23, had sparked outrage for detailing an imaginary conversation with the prophet Muhammad on his Twitter account, in which he addressed him as an equal: "I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more."

After generating over 30,000 fevered responses (including a number of death threats), Kashgari deleted the post and issued a formal apology. However, this did not stop the juggernaut. As of 6pm (UK time) today, A Facebook page entitled "The Saudi people want the execution of Hamza Kashgari" had 26,632 members – a figure that sadly dwarfs the number who had signed the petition to save him.

by Myriam Francois-Cerrah, a British Muslim and Oxford PhD student
The case of Hamza Kashgari has entered a new and deeply worrying phase as Malaysian authorities have deported the 23-year-old journalist back to Saudi Arabia, where he currently risks execution. There has been widespread and rightful opprobrium of the Saudi government’s response but few seem to question the official Saudi line that their indignation at alleged blasphemy is behind the call for the death penalty. Specifically, the government claims Hamza’s tweets, in which he appeared to express irreverence for the Prophet, is the source of its vendetta.

by Jalees Rehman
Last week, the Saudi writer and blogger Hamza Kashgari tweeted about Prophet Muhammad and his tweets caused an unanticipated fire-storm of outrage among many Saudis. They formed an "electronic lynch mob" and responded with hate-filled tweets, Face-book posts, comments, threats and YouTube videos, calling for the arrest and punishment of Kashgari.

by Shalah Khan Salter, Muslims for Progressive Values (Canada)
When I was 23 years old, I drew a hooded white figure on posters that advertised a special lecture at my university. It was to be delivered by an up and coming leader, starting a new federal political party. I had read the leader had ties to racist groups in Alberta.

I defaced the posters wherever I found them on campus.

If I had been caught, would I have been beheaded?

Such may be the fate of 23-year-old Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi writer who messaged via Twitter an imaginary conversation with the Prophet Muhammad a week ago, around the time of Prophet Muhammad's birthday.

press statement by Malaysian Muslim women's group
Sisters in Islam (SIS) is deeply disappointed that the Malaysian government has deported the Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari without due process. This deportation was carried out despite the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries and the probability that Hamza might face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for alleged blasphemy.

Home Minister Dato Seri Hishammudin Hussein’s statement that we have an agreement with other countries to always return their citizens should they ask for them is therefore questionable. In the absence of an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, under what legal provision did Hishammudin act in deporting Hamza Kashgari?

statement by the Center for Policy Initiatives, Malaysia
The BBC, reporting on Hamza Kashgari’s deportation from Kuala Lumpur back to his native Saudi Arabia, said the charge hanging over the young man’s head of insulting the Prophet Muhammad is considered blasphemous in Islam and punishable by death.

Kashgari, 23, fled his country was detained upon his arrival here on Thursday en route to New Zealand where he was planning to seek political asylum. A journalist, Kashgari was recently sacked by Saudi daily al-Bilad where he had a column.

Three allegedly blasphemous tweets were made about Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday (Maulidur Rasul) last week and sparked vociferous calls for the death penalty to be imposed on him.

The climate of fear and caution has been such that – even merely for the purpose of reference – it’s difficult to find Kashgari’s tweets reproduced in reputable websites (although some independent blogs have carried them). One website which initially reproduced them has withdrawn the tweets.

by the Islamic Renaissance Front
The Islamic Renaissance Front strongly condemns the deportation of Hamza Kashgari over his allegedly offensive tweets.

Due to the irresponsible and cowardly actions of the Malaysian government in enabling the deportation, Mr Kashragi now faces the possibility of the death penalty in his home country of Saudi Arabia for the simple act of demanding his right to practice the most basic human rights – freedom of expression and thought.

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