Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hamza Kashgari Case Not Going Away

Although the western mainstream media is doing its best to downplay or even completely ignore the case of the imprisoned 23 year old Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari, the world-wide campaign on his behalf is gathering momentum and shows no sign of losing steam.

The London based human rights group Article 19 has released a statement and put together a helpful timeline of events:
Saudi Arabia and Malaysia violate rights of Saudi tweeter

The group Anonymous may or may not be behind the flooding of the Chicago Tribune's Facebook page with messages in support of Hamza Kashgari (link). And Anonymous also may or may not be behind this youtube video in support of Kashgari.

Gulf News has reported another twitter related religious controversy in Saudi Arabia: a Saudi national named Hamoud Saleh Al Amri, who lives in Mecca, has reportedly posted tweets about his conversion to Christianity, leading to calls for his arrest, trial and execution:
Another Saudi wades into controversy for insulting tweets

This appears to be the same Hamoud Saleh Al Amri who has been arrested previously for similar reasons in 2004, 2008, and 2009, according to a 2009 story from the fundamentalist Christian missionary group Compass Direct:
Authorities Release Christian Blogger

I am not a big fan of Richard Cohen, but his column two days ago in the Washington Post on Hamza Kashgari is getting a lot of attention, and that is a good thing:
The plight of Hamza Kashgari

And there continues to be outrage in Malaysia in response to the dastardly (that's right: dastardly) role of the Malaysian government in delivering Kashgari over to the Saudis, including ongoing legal efforts to expose the literally criminal behavior of the Malaysian officials involved in violation of international law and the Malaysian Constitution:
Kashgari's habeas corpus application struck out (New Straights Times, Singapore)

Meanwhile, Islamic scholar Dr. Wael Shihab (writing for OnIslam.Net) is trying to have it both ways in his little essay Tweets on the Prophet: Islamic Thoughts. On the one hand, Dr. Shihab comes out against any punishment for Kashgari, saying that "misunderstanding isn't apostasy". But the clear implication is that actual apostasy should still be treated as criminal activity! Also, Dr. Shihab insists that Twitter, Facebook, etc, need to adopt a "Code of Ethics" that will protect only "responsible freedom of expression", while systematically censoring anything "attacking people’s beliefs, honor, or values"!

Lastly, the Middle East Media Research Institute ran a piece yesterday that is notable for documenting a broad spectrum of responses to Kashgari's case both inside Saudi Arabia itself and elsewhere in the Arab world:
Controversy in Saudi Arabia Over Journalist's Tweets about the Prophet Muhammad