After being deported from Malaysia back to Saudi Arabia for a series of poetic tweets, 23-year-old Hamza Kashgari has been detained in Saudi Arabia. And according to the Arabic daily, Al Hayat, he is not the only tweeter who could face the same fate.
Charges of blasphemy are being brought against Kashgari, which could be accompanied by the death sentence, and Jeddah’s public prosecutor has reportedly said that he plans to bring similar charges against Saudis on Twitter who supported or encouraged Kashgari’s stance.
According to Gulf News, however, there is a differentiation to be made. The Middle East daily quotes lawyer Khalid Abu Rashid as saying, “If the support was for general principles like freedom of expression, then this is a different matter, but if the support was for the attacks on Allah and His Prophet, then the supporters should be tried for apostasy.”
It is unclear, however, where the line would be drawn in terms of supportive tweets, and whether only those explicitly stating that they don’t agree with Kashgari’s point of view would be spared.
Malaysia has come under harsh attack for its move to deport Kashgari, despite lawyers obtaining an injunction. Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is standing by his decision, and at a press conference said, “I will not allow Malaysia to be seen as a safe country for terrorists and those who are wanted by their countries of origin, and also be seen as a transit county.”
He also denied receiving the injunction that Lawyers for Liberty obtained, although it is not clear whether Kashgari was still in the country when it was issued.
The Malaysian lawyers have not given up on the case, despite the fact that Kashgari’s fate is very much out of their hands now. In a public statement, they said “Lawyers for Liberty will continue to campaign for Hamza’s release and have filed a habeas corpus application today to seek among others, a declaration that Hamza’s arrest and detention were unlawful.” The case has been adjourned until February 22.