Malaysia has reportedly deported a Saudi journalist facing the death penalty for his tweets

Malaysia has reportedly deported a Saudi journalist facing the death penalty for his tweets

Being arrested for a tweet or a Facebook post in the Middle East is certainly nothing new. We’ve seen activists and journalists questioned, sentenced and imprisoned based on statements made on both social networks.

The latest story of this kind to come out of the region started in Saudi Arabia and is meeting a swift end in Malaysia. 23-year-old Saudi Arabian journalist Hamza Kashgari fled his home country after a series of tweets received far more attention than he could have anticipated.

The tweets, addressed to Islam’s prophet Mohammed, were deemed blasphemous, and received over 30,000 comments, quickly followed by the creation of a Facebook page calling for the journalist’s execution.

The tweets, which have since been deleted from his account, have been republished in countless blog posts and on news sites. They read:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.”

Kashgari left Saudi Arabia where he could face charges of apostasy, which in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death. Boarding a plane from Malaysia bound for New Zealand, Kashgari was apprehended by Malaysian authorities, and according to the most recent reports, he may already be on his way back to Saudi Arabia.

According to IC Publications Kashgari was to be sent back to Saudi Arabia, following a statement from Malaysia’s Home Ministry, saying:

“Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other, and (Kashgari) will be repatriated under this arrangement…The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities.”

Kashgari’s arrest in Malaysia has been a topic of controversy, with accusations leveled at Interpol for its involvement in the matter.

Human rights lawyers based in Malaysia have been fighting to stop the extradition, receiving a court order to halt Kashgari’s deportation. Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, of Lawyers for Liberty, who have publicly spoken out in Kashgari’s favour, has been tweeting their progress, which has seen no success so far:

In the meantime, AFP has already reported that the Saudi Arabian journalist is in fact on his way back to Saudi Arabia.

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