KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Authorities here said they will likely repatriate a Saudi Arabian writer who fled Saudi Arabiaamid calls for him to be executed after he posted Twitter messages considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad, Malaysian authorities said Friday.
Malaysian police detained the writer, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old columnist for the Jeddah-based Al Bilad newspaper, when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Thursday, Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs, said in a statement.
“The police have contacted their counterpart in Saudi Arabia to determine the next course of action,” Mr. Hussein said.
Rights groups have expressed concern about Mr. Kashgari’s safety after religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia called for him to be arrested and executed after he directly addressed the Prophet Muhammad in a series of posts on Twitter. Amnesty International called for Malaysia not to deport Mr. Kashgari, to immediately disclose where he is being held and to grant him access to a lawyer.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Malaysia, where Muslims make up 60 percent of the population, has long been cited as an example and model of a progressive multiracial and multiracial Muslim country. However, its peaceful coexistence has been strained by interreligious tensions and conflicts between the Malay majority and the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities who are mostly Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. Decisions taken by the prime minister’s Department Religious Affairs have exacerbated the situation. A leading example is the ruling that Christians stop using “Allah, the Malay term for God, despite the fact that this has been an accepted practice in Malaysia as it is in Indonesia and the Middle East. Malaysia’s Home Ministry prohibited Catholics from using the word in their Malay-language publications since 2007. Customs officials seized 15,000 Bibles from Indonesia because they used the word “Allah” as a translation for God. However, Malaysia’s High Court overturned a government ban, ruling that the word Allah is not exclusive to Muslims and that others, including Catholics, who had been prohibited by the Home Ministry from using the word in the Malay-language edition of the Catholic monthly the Herald, can now use the term. Incensed by the decision, militants attacked several churches and pledged to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah.” In the aftermath of the attacks, the Malaysian High Court in response to a government appeals granted a stay order on Jan. 7; the government appealed to the higher Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST