Sacrilegious Saudi writer arrested in Malaysia

Writer to be extradited to kingdom and could face death

Malaysian authorities arrested a Saudi newspaper writer wanted by the Gulf kingdom for offending Islam and Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) and local reports said he could face death.

Hamza Kashgari was seized as he arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday following his escape from Saudi Arabia on news that King Abdullah has ordered him arrested and prosecuted for religious insults in his articles on Twitter.

“The Malaysian authorities are coordinating with Saudi Arabia to hand Kashgari over,” the Saudi Arabic language daily 'Al Youm' said. In a separate report, newspapers quoted a statement by the kingdom’s Islamic Fatwa Committee calling for punishing Kashgari in line with Islamic law, which means he could be executed.

King Abdullah’s order to arrest the writer, a columnist in the Saudi Arabic language daily 'Al Bilad', followed public furor inside the kingdom over some of his articles, considered as abusive of Islam and the Prophet. “The order came after many scholars, dignitaries and citizens in the kingdom sent messages to the Monarch expressing indignation at Kashgari offences,” 'Ajel' Arabic language daily said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Saudi Information minister Abdul Aziz Khowja was reported as telling all local newspapers and magazine not to carry any article by Kashgari for what he described as persistent offences against Islam.“I have instructed all newspapers and magazines in the kingdom not to allow him to write any thing and we will take legal measures against him,” he said.

“When I read his articles, I wept and got very angry to have someone in the country of the two holy shrines address our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in this offending way,” he added without giving further details.

Newspapers said Khowja’s move came after thousands of readers and schools sent letters to the local media and online demanding Kashgari’s prosecution.After the order, many Saudi newspapers carried a letter written by Kashgari on his Twitter page apologizing for any offence, which he said was inadvertent.

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