Authorities in Saudi Arabia hope to mute any support for the Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari, accused of apostasy, by threatening those who speak out in his support.
Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari has been placed in a detention center in Riyadh, following his forcible return from Malaysia. The 23-year-old writer, who is deemed to have written blasphemous remarks on Twitter on the occasion of Prophet Mohammed's birthday, has been vilified in Saudi, where hard line religious clerics are baying for his blood by demanding his execution.
Now the Saudi Arabian authorities are even threatening those who would seek to speak out in support of Kashgari. According toDeath Penalty News the state prosecutor in Jeddah who is preparing to file a case against Kashgari "has also called for others who have replied in encouragement or agreement to Hamza Kashgari’s Twitter remarks to be prosecuted."
Authorities have not stated what punishment they would intend for anyone speaking in Kashgari's defence, but are quite clear on the punishment due to the writer if found guilty of apostasy. Saudi cleric Sheikh Saleh bin Fowzan Al Fowzan, a member of the 7-man supreme committee of scholars, said "he must be killed" if found guilty, Emirates 247 reported. The cleric also said there was no place for mercy, as he stated “Repenting will not work…any man who insults God or our Prophet should be killed.” Kashgari issued an apology when he realized the outrage his Tweets had caused.
Human Rights groups have spoken out against Malaysia's decision to return Kashgari to Saudi where he could face execution, accusing Malaysia of violating international human rights. However Malaysia was quick to defend its own position by comparing Kashgari to a terrorist. The BBC reported Malaysian Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein 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.''
Details of an appeal for the release of Hamza Kashgari can be found on Death Penalty News.