Gulf | Saudi Arabia

$content.channelSponsor.value

Malaysia deports controversial Saudi tweeter

Thousands of Saudis have called on the internet for the most stringent action against Saudi former columnist over controversial comments on Twitter

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 14:51 February 12, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama: Malaysia on Sunday deported controversial Saudi former columnist Hamza Kashgari after Riyadh requested his extradition following the outrage caused by comments deemed blasphemous and insulting to Prophet Mohammad on his Twitter account.

Malaysian newspaper The Sun Daily reported that Kashgari was deported back home two hours and a half before his lawyers managed to get a High Court injunction to stop the deportation.

The lawyers, led by R Kesavan, said that they obtained the injunction at 1:30 pm on Sunday, but were told that Kashgari has been put on a plane at 10am.

The injunction was an order to the police, the Home Ministry, as well as the Subang and Kuala Lumpur International Airport immigration authorities to stop Kashgari's deportation, the daily said.

"We managed to get the injunction from High Court Judge Datuk Rohana Yusof at her house," Kesavan said. "As he is now out of the country, there is nothing more we can do."

Kashgari, 23, last week went into hiding before fleeing Saudi Arabia for Malaysia amid reports that he wanted to go to another country to avoid facing justice in his home country where insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous.

The Malaysian daily said that Hamza, whose official name is reportedly Mohammad Najeeb, was detained at the airport as he was departing for New Zealand and was reported to have entered Malaysia two days earlier.

Prior to his fleeing Saudi Arabia, he issued a statement in which he apologised for his remarks and announced his repentance.

However, he was arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport and handed over to Saudi officials who took him to Saudi Arabia where his fate is still unknown.

A leading religious figure in Saudi Arabia said that judges will decide whether the repentance would be accepted.

"His repentance will have to be assessed by judges who will decide whether he was truthful or was lying," Abdul Rahman Bin Nasser Al Barrak said.

"We have doubts that the repentance statement was genuine and we believe that it was written by someone else for him in the hope that he will be protected and will not be brought to justice," he said, quoted by Saudi news website Saudi Now.

For the religious leader, Hamza was the victim of a conspiracy of negative influence from atheists and a possible irresponsible wish for fame.

Thousands of Saudis have called on the internet for the most stringent action against Hamza for his "highly despicable irresponsible behaviour and his terribly outrageous attitudes."

In Kuala Lumpur, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that the decision to deport him home despite calls to send him to a third country was based on the fact that "Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other."

"The nature of the charges against the individual in this case is a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities."

The detention was made at the request of the Saudi Arabian authorities, he said.

King Abdullah Bin Abul Aziz Al Saud last week ordered the arrest of Hamza.

Hamza's mother blamed the people around him for "taking the wrong path."

"We are terribly shocked by what happened. This is a real tragedy," the mother told a Saudi radio. "I still cannot believe that my son will insult anyone and I blame those who sat with him," she said over the phone.

According to the mother, Hamza had performed Haj (pilgrimage) three times and was an avid reader of religious books.

"Lately, he started reading philosophy and psychology books and these might have influenced him," she said.

However, she insisted that her son "disrespected" the Prophet (PBUH), but did not insult him.

Narrating the events on the day Saudis discovered the tweets, the mother said that Hamza came home and hugged her while tears were rolling down his cheeks, requesting her to forgive him.

"He then went to his father and kissed him, imploring for his forgiveness and apologising for letting him down," she said, quoted by Saudi news website Saudi Now.

The mother said she had not had any sleep since the start of the drama last week.

"I am in a terrible state and I want to feel assured about my son. I demand a religious session for him now that he announced his repentance," she said.

Gulf News
News Editor's choice
Gulf weather