Press Statement: 13 February 2012
Right to the end, the Malaysian Government has shown itself to be mean spirited and paranoid in its handling of Hamza Kashgari!
The extradition of Saudi Arabian Blogger and writer Hamza Kashgari, who was extradited back to Saudi Arabia on 12 February after being detained by Malaysian police on 9th February 2012. Right to the end, the Malaysian Government has shown itself to be mean spirited and paranoid in its handling of Hamza Kashgari.
Like a typical totalitarian state, the political prisoner was rousted from his bed and whisked to the airport where, apparently, he was flown in a chartered plane to Saudi Arabia. We learned that he was extradited at 10am in the morning, while the court order to stop the extradition only is given at 1.30pm on Sunday.
SUARAM condemns and view the government’s decision to deport Hamza Kashgari is a totally arbitrary act by the Home Ministry and a gross abuse of executive power of the Najib administration. We believe this is politically motivated and the government has made a mistake by deporting back another human being where he could be sentenced to death. Furthermore the government fails to ensure the safety of Hamza Kashgari and has denied access for Hamza to make verification for asylum claim under the UNHCR and lawyers to give legal advice. It should be noted that when Hamza Kashgari was arrested on 9 February at KLIA, he was trying to leave the country to New Zealand and not upon arrival in Malaysia as claimed by the authorities.
The government must explain its wrongful action in detaining and deporting Hamza Kashgari to the Malaysian public. We condemn the Home Ministry for continue to spin further lies and deceit over the unlawful and unconstitutional detention and extradition of Hamza Kashgari by now alleging or insinuating that he is a “criminal” or “terrorist” wanted by Saudi Arabia.
It is clear that, Malaysian government as the member of Human Rights Council failed to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law to protect the right to life and the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
SUARAM is gravely concerned about the safety and whereabouts of Hamza Kashgari. As per news report he has been detained upon his arrival on Sunday night. SUARAM urges the Saudi Arabia government to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Hamza Kashgari and release him in the absence of valid legal charges and judicial process consistent with international legal standards, or if such charges exist, bring him before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times.
On February 4th 2012, the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Hamza wrote on the social network twitter a few messages describing the way he loves the Prophet. The messages included thoughts on how Hamza loves the Prophet despite the mistakes he might have made, and how he doesn’t like affectation in the expression of love, or the aura of holiness in which one is bound to express love in prayer or by physical expression such as bowing and kissing the Prophet’s hands, and how Hamza prefers to treat the Prophet as an equal, and express his love through friendship. Hamza also wrote that one cannot determine the existence of God as a certainty unless he spoke, saw or sensed God, and that this realization of God is not obligatory to others.
While his messages express no real offense to God, Prophet or to Islam, yet there was a severe reaction by the Saudi/Islamic public via twitter, and was accused of heresy and blasphemy because he degraded the status of Prophet Muhammad, and soon enough attracted the attention and focus of the media.
Public on twitter created a hashtag( #hamzahKashghri) in which the messages (tweets) of Hamza was discussed and demands that his account must be suspended, he must be trailed amongst more extreme demands.
As a result of the media focus and public reaction, on 5 February 5 2012 legal and religious advocates took action to file a lawsuit against Hamza Kashgari, accusing him of insulting the divine status of God, and of the Prophet, while public backlash continued via social networks and media demanding to hold hamza accountable of those accusations. Hamza apologized for what he wrote, asked God for forgiveness declared repentance from heresy and blasphemy yet the attacks and demands for punishment continued.
On 6 February 2012 the Saudi Minister of Information issued a directive forbidding Saudi newspaper and magazine to publish anything on Hamza. Large numbers of different segments of society and notables of Jeddah brought forward cases against the writer Hamza Kashgari to the Courts of Jeddah. Several societies and religious organizations as well as notable religious Shiekhs and scholars demanded maximum apostasy punishment to be imposed on Hamza (execution).
On 7 February 2012 the King of Saudi Arabia issued an order to the Minister of Interior to immediately arrest Hamza Kashgari, imprison him and put him forward for interrogation and prosecution. Al-Billad Newspaper issued a statement declaring that the newspaper has stopped its cooperation with Hamza five weeks earlier because his views contradicted the newspaper’s policy.
On 7 February 2012 Hamza fled Saudi Arabia to Malaysia as threats of arrest, unlawful prosecution and demands of apostasy punishment continued despite his declaration of repentance. He was arrested by the Malaysian police about 9.40am at KL International Airport (KLIA) on Thursday (9th February 2012).
On the 10 February 2012, the lawyers sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) and the Home Affairs Ministry to get legal access and to meet Hamza. The IGP and Home Ministry acknowledged documents seeking access to their client, but that they had not yet granted permission.
The Home Affairs Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, on February 10, acknowledged that the authorities were holding Hamza.