Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hamza Kashgari: Malaysia Govt Minister Doubles Down on Extradition, & Other News of Note

Before getting to the main focus of this post (referred to in the title) I want to mention five other interesting news items related to the case of Hamza Kashgari. First off, March 14 has been declared International Day of Action to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates. For more information see this facebook page and also this blog post by Iranian-British human rights activist Maryam Namazie. Second of all there is an analysis piece on the current political and economic situation in Saudi Arabia in the latest issue of The Economist, and mention is made therein of the cynical way in which Hamza Kashgari's case is being exploited by the Saudi government: Out of the comfort zone: Growing unemployment and political tensions are buffeting the kingdom. The Third story is a report that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) had formally requested access to Hamza Kashgari while he was still being held in Malaysia before being extradited to Saudi Arabia, but this request was denied: UNHCR says not given access to blogger (this is not a new story, it's from mid-February, but somehow I missed it at the time). The Fourth story is a piece that appeared a couple days ago in the New Yorker: Rick Santorum, Meet Hamza Kashgari. Fifth up is the story of Erykha Badu's banning from Malaysia, which I think provides some valuable insight into this "moderate" Muslim nation: Badu victim of Malaysian politics.

Now on to the main story for this post!

Nazri Aziz is the Minister for the Department of Parliamentary Affairs in the Malaysian government, and he is also the former Minister of Legal Affairs and Judicial Reforms. He is sometimes referred to as "the de facto Law Minister". Here is an unflattering profile of him from last September from FreeMalaysiaToday.Com: The Defective Law Minister.

Aziz has now waded into the continuing scandal over the illegal (under both international law and the Malaysian Constitution) extradition of Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia on February 12. The outrageous nature of this act is compounded by the fact that not only was the UNHCR seeking access to Kashgari, a Malaysian court actually ruled in favor of Kashgari and granted an injunction against his extradition! But Malaysian government officials had secretly rushed with the extradition so they could spirit the 23-year old Saudi writer out of Malaysia before the UNHCR could see him and just hours before the injunction was handed down (see timeline here).

So what does the "Defective/De Facto Law Minister" Nazri Aziz have to say about all this? "If we did not send him back, it will then be inconsistent with what we do over here. The government does not want to be seen as hypocrites. And thus, the deportation." Aziz further clarified these remarks by insisting that Hamza Kashgari's now famous tweets were in his opinion "seditious" and what Kashgari did would also be considered a serious crime in Malaysia. "It is seditious. What he did could incite anger and hatred, and is racially sensitive. We could try him in our own court." He also stated that no extradition treaty is needed between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia because the two nations are "Brotherly Muslim countries".
"We're justified in deporting Saudi writer" Malay Mail
"We don’t need an extradition agreement" FreeMalaysiaToday.Com