Dubai: Prominent Saudi intellectual and writer Turki Al Hamad has been arrested upon direct orders from the kingdom’s interior minister, Saudi media reported. Saudi media has reported that the writer had been arrested following an order by Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef following tweets criticising Islamists.
According to the media sites it was a particular tweet that landed him in hot water which called for the “correction” of Islam. Saudi site Sabq reported that the interior minister felt “severe displeasure at the slander” of the Prophet and directed the authorities to immediately detain him.
Known as a liberal critic of religious radicalism, Al Hamad has caused controversy before. His novels have dealt with political and social matters long considered taboo in the religiously conservative kingdom. The Riyadh Bureau cited a series of tweets in December 2011 in which Al Hamad directly criticised Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd, a Minister of State. One of his tweets read: “Your royal highness, do you know what the people are?” Those criticising Islam in Saudi Arabia, and particularly the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), often face the risk of being charged with apostasy, a crime punishable by death.
A young Saudi writer, Hamza Kashgari, was extradited from Malaysia last year upon the request of Saudi authorities for tweets which were seen as insulting to the Prophet.