Saudi considers law against insulting Islam
Saudi Arabia is studying new regulations to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties.
The potential regulations come five months after a Saudi blogger and columnist Hamza Kashgari, 23, was arrested for blasphemy comments on Twitter.
"Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic Shariah," unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told Al Watan newspaper, adding that there could be "severe punishments" for violators.
Criticism penalised under the law would include that of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him), early Muslim figures and clerics, it said.
"The (regulations) are important at the present time because violations over social networks on the Internet have been observed in the past months," the sources said.
A spokesman from the Shura Council, the governments all-appointed consultative body, did not respond to calls for comment.
Kashgari's case set off a debate in Saudi Arabia on whether repentance could save convicts from the death penalty.
Kashgari fled the country in February, a few days after his twitter posts, but was later arrested by police in Malaysia en route to New Zealand.
Despite declaring repentance, he was deported back to Saudi Arabia and was taken into police custody to face a trial.
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