Hamza Kashgari, a writer from Saudi Arabia, thought he was simply tweeting a few observations about his love and respect for the Prophet Muhammad. Instead, he might have been securing his own death sentence.
The furor started last week when the 23-year-old tweeted a few seemingly innocuous things about the Prophet in celebration of His birthday. The tweets, reported by the Daily Beast, are as follows:
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's twitter account was quickly hit by 30,000 replies, many of them from Islamists furious over what they perceived as blasphemy. Reactions did not stop at just angry tweets. Vigilantes went looking for him at his local mosque, his newspaper column was shut down and his work banned, and many religious officials called for him to be tried for apostasy, which if he is found guilty of carries with it a death sentence.
Kasghari recognized the imminent danger and fled the country. Unfortunately, he was arrested in Malaysia while trying to flee to New Zealand, where he had planned to apply for asylum, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is not known whether or not he will be extradited back to Saudi Arabia. Being that the King himself has called for Kashgari's arrest, it seems likely that he will be.
Cultural relativism! The only silver lining for Kashgari is that women seem to dig guys with fatwas placed on their heads, cause there is no other way Salman Rushdie, the original blasphemous writer facing a death sentence, could have pulled Padma. The Satanic Verses is a fantastic book, by the way, and contains my favorite quotation of all time. It is also quite apropos for this situation:
"You like the taste of blood," he says. The boy shrugs. "A poet's work," he answers. "To name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep." And if rivers of blood flow from the cuts his verses inflict, then they will nourish him.
Let's hope the Malaysian government comes to it's senses and releases Kashgari. Something tells me the Saudis wont.
[pic and article via The Daily Beast]