Hamza Kashgari Returned to Saudi Arabia: Where the 7th Century and 1984 Converge in the 21st Century

Malaysian authorities have deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a tweet. –BBC(12 February 2012)

In typical Beeb style, this is a rather measured statement of what actually happened.  And that is this: A young man exercising speech rights enshrined in the U.N. human rights convention, but not recognized anywhere  in the Islamic world, was seized while in lawful transit en route to a third country,  by Malaysia’s “soft” theocratic state, and turned over to agents of world’s most repressive religious regime for rendition to Saudi Arabia, with the collusion of an international policing agency answerable to no one.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia's glittering gateway. I plan on staying away.

And now Hamza Kashgari, journalist and blogger from Jeddah, awaits retribution for his thought crime. It is interesting to not that Kashgari means “of Kashgar” a city in Southwest China, once known as a great caravan terminus in Chinese Turkestan. There has been great diversity within Islam, but the Wahhabi/Salafi/Muslim Brotherhood assault is bent on destroying these differences in the name of the  suffocating orthodoxy challenged by the young Saudi.

Malaysia acted in response to a “red notice” issued by Interpol at tthe request of Saudis.

The Guardian notes :

In response to past criticisms of the red notice system, it has said: “There are safeguards in place. The subject of a red notice can challenge it through an independent body, the commission for the control of Interpol’s files (CCF).”

One can only imagine the cost of the legal resources that would need to be brought to bear to achieve any result.  Mr. Kashgari will not have the benefit of civil society organizations that would be able to help in some societies.

These “safeguards” were of no avail to the 22 year old Saudi. It makes me want to weep.  Can you imagine how this boy felt, his young life in ruins behind him, but still with hope before him, as he flew east?

Then he lands in  KLIA (Kuala Lumpur), transiting to New Zealand, and the  grim face of Islamism greets him.  Perhaps his hope continued to flicker for the few hours he was held, hoping that a world outcry would save him.

Human rights organizations did shout his case out to a largely heedless world, but those who could have helped, the foreign offices of Europe, and the  United States State Department were, and of this writing, still are, silent.

How he felt on the flight “home” is too awful to contemplate.

I spit on “moderate Malaysia.”

This is the face Malaysia presents to the world. Not a hijab in sight when, in fact, most Malaysian Muslim women have taken up the head scarf since the 1980s.

Mr. Kashgari’s remarks would

Malasian Pas(Islamist Party) members demonstrate. This is more representative of current developments in Malaysia.

seem innocuous to those unfamiliar with the parameters defining blasphemy in Islamic jurisprudence:

In the first, Kashgari declared “I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me,” but then added: “I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.” He followed that with a second tweet, “I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

In a third, Kashgari said: “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.”

Reminiscent of one seeking a personal relationship with Jesus, but given the unquestioning regard of Muslim believers for the Islamic prophet, which only misses being fairly termed  idolatry in that images of this “Perfect Man” are forbidden, the Saudi blogger’s tweets were enough to bring the wrath of the entire Kingdom, from royals to ordinary citizens.

The twats at Twitter should say something about it, but don’t count on it, as they have picked up a stack of Saudi Petrodollars recently

The Red Notice system has been the subject of abuse before, as in this 2004 Congressional Record discussion of bogus notices issued by Uzbekistan. What we have here is a system that allows repressive governments to pursue their nationals for crimes that would not be offenses in free countries, to suppress dissent, and purse their rulers’ personal vendettas..

During World War II, Interpol, then headquartered in Vienna, was headed by such SS luminaries as as Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Reinhard Heydrich.  Now based in Lyon, France,  it is headed by Ronald K. Noble, Clinton era U.S. Justice Department Undersecretary for Enforcement, and head of the Department’s “Waco Administrative Review Team.”  In other words, there is more than a whiff of sympathy for coercive statism in the agency’s history.

And it is this  that made Kashgari’s apprehension possible, even certain.

He fled his native country with thousands quite literally calling for his head.accusing him of apostasy.  This is no surprise as, although the Koran itself does not state a temporal punishment for the crime, a widely accepted  hadith (saying of Islam’s prophet Muhmmad) does:

Whoever changed his (Islamic) religion, then kill him” Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:84:57

Muhammad himslef was no mean axeman, at least by proxy, as the story of the Jewish Banu Qurayza, among other traditions,  will attest.

While Mr.Kashgari did not deny Muhammad as Allah’s messenger,  mere mockery of Allah or the prophet can constitute apostasy. The journalist is in jeopardy of great harm, not the least of which is time in a Saudi jail.  Yet, I do not think his life will be taken.  The case  does have some visibility, and the suave spokesmen the Saudis send to the West will, one

Adel A. Al-Jubeir, current Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

hopes,counsel moderation for the sake of good PR.

A Saudi beheading. A regular Friday crowd pelaser at "Chop Square" in Riyadh. Plenty more where this came from: perennial favorites on YouTube

Rather, Hamza Kashgari’s fate will recall that of Winston  Smith in 1984  Some schools of Islamic jurisprudence allow the apostate to recant and thus avoid death.  This is the line taken against Christians accused of apostasy from Islam by Iran.  Remember how in Orwell’s book, Winston, after his torture and breaking, was allowed his physical freedom, for a while.

One can almost wonder is Kashgari’s flight towards the western world was like the way the Inner Party played with its victims, before erasing them. Kashgari, too will learn to love Big Brother, or at least to convince all around that he does so.  Islam is more merciful than Ingsoc, in that it requires only outward submission for survival in this world, leaving damnation for the secret denier to the next.

Nevertheless, the end result is the same: “a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

 

What you can do:

Contact your foreign office.

Contact the Saudi Embassy in your country.

Express your anger to Malaysian representation in your country.

Contact Tourism Malaysia and let them know you will not be visiting Malaysia as a result of their country’s complicity in the Kashgari affair.  This page provides contact information for Malaysian tourism promotion offices in various countries.

For the U.S.  go here to email Secretary Clinton

or call: 202-647-4000

Email Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington

Telephone: (202) 342-3800

Information/Press Office: (202) 337-4076

Malaysian Embassy, Washington

Email: malwashdc@kln.gov.my

Telephone (202) 342-3800

Sign on line petitions.  Here is one, and there are many more.

Tweet and Facebook Kashgari’s story.  Use the links in this piece, or find your own, but spread the news.  Talk to your friends and family.

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4 thoughts on “Hamza Kashgari Returned to Saudi Arabia: Where the 7th Century and 1984 Converge in the 21st Century

  1. Nice post. I agree that the case now has so much visibility that a death sentence may be a step too far, and Abdullah is showing signs of moderation (witness his ‘climbdown’ over the Manal Al-Sherif driving arrest).
    We should also be careful about what we call thought-crimes.

      • Because Kashgari was being punished for what he wrote in the public sphere, not what he thought. There is no freedom of press or speech in Saudi Arabia. Though terrible and out of all proportion of what is morally right and wrong to western eyes, what happened to him should not be surprising or exaggerated as anything other than standard practice in the Kingdom.

      • Had a look at your blog, and I see that you are in KSA. I did a stretch there back in the 70s. And attitudes I saw there seem to have spread, to the point where I barely recognize parts of Indonesia, a country I’ve know all my life, and have consequently fled to Hindu Bali. I’ve given up on Islam. This has been a long process. I’m not one of those who finished with it on 9/11. It took much longer, because I had so long been associated with Muslims. But in the end, I quit.

        Stay safe over there.

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