It’s scary that we live in a world in which people like Hamza Kashgari might be put to death for a few Twitter comments. It’s frightening that a little “blasphemy” can lead to death threats. It’s not just one country that condemns commenters that even hint at criticism of a religion or a religious figure, it’s many. Malaysia and Saudi Arabia aren’t alone, and that’s even more frightening than the fact that any country at all like this exists.
I’m not familiar with the Koran, so I couldn’t possibly say if this type of thing is hypocritical in a religious sense. What I am familiar with is rational thought, freedom and basic human decency, and the actions by the many that condemned Kashgari, by the government that pursued Kashgari, and by the Malaysian officials that deported Kashgari are contrary to those values.
“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,” Hishammuddin said.
He said the deportation followed a request from the Saudi government. Allegations that Kashgari could be tortured and killed if he was sent back home are “ridiculous” because Saudi Arabia is a respectable country, he said.
This is what the Home Minister of Malaysia said. His defense is horribly week, and if Saudi Arabia proves him wrong by putting Kashgari to death, I do hope he’ll learn is lesson. Any country that limits freedom of speech so severely is not a “respectable” country. Allowing a political or religious dissident like Kashgari to change planes in Malaysia to go to New Zealand would not give Malaysia a record for being “a safe country for terrorists.” It might give them the record of being a place with an airport where people change planes.
If Kashgari’s Tweets were in a language other than English, then I imagine they lost something in translation. Nevertheless, nothing he said seemed particularly blasphemous (I understand that what he said is blasphemous, but in terms of degrees it seems rather mild). How it resulted in so much outrage will always baffle me, and at this point I can only hope that one of the human rights agencies out there manages to protect this young man from dire consequences he might face for speaking his mind.