They should not think that they are exempted from this because they are followers of other faiths

Saudi Arabia is also (surprise surprise) harsh and bossy about Ramadan even for people who have the bad taste to be not Muslim.

The Interior Ministry has warned that it would deport non-Muslim expatriates found eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.

“Non-Muslim expatriates should respect the feelings of Muslims by not eating, drinking or smoking in public places such as streets and workplaces. They should not think that they are exempted from this because they are followers of other faiths,” the ministry said in a statement. [Read more…]

All dissent is terrorism

Human Rights Watch reported on March 20 that Saudi Arabia has passed a new “terrorism” law that pretty much equates all forms of dissent with terrorism.

The new regulations come amid a campaign to silence independent activists and peaceful dissidents through intimidation, investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment. On March 9, the prominent human rights activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani completed their first year in prison, serving 11 and 10-year sentences, respectively, for criticizing the government’s human rights abuses and for membership in an unlicensed political and civil rights organization. [Read more…]

His wife had left the international airport

Another new wrinkle in the project to make sure that women are kept under ferocious control at all times no matter what – Saudi Arabia has now arranged things so that when a woman leaves Saudi Arabia, her male “guardian” gets a test message saying “Hey! Did you know your slut has crossed the border?”

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

This of course is to make sure that they don’t run around naked begging foreigners to fuck them.

Airbrush those whorey women out of the pictures

Ikea did, for the version of its catalogue that goes to Saudi Arabia.

So the familiar catalogue that shows a familiar world of people using furniture becomes a bizarro catalogue that shows a bizarro world that shows not people using furniture but just men and boys.

The removal of women from the pages of the Saudi edition, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from Swedes, who pride themselves on egalitarian policies and a narrow gender gap.

“You can’t remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste,” Ewa Bjoerling, the trade minister, said in a statement.

Her sentiment was echoed by Swedish European Union minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who branded the incident “medieval” on social networking site Twitter.

Well you know how it is. Furniture includes beds. You do the math.

Interpol as theocracies’ little helper

Interpol has said it had nothing to do with the extradition of Hamza Kashgari, but Dennis McShane MP apparently didn’t get the memo – or got the memo and didn’t believe it.

The charge of apostasy was maintained, his home was attacked and, again, sensibly enough, Kashgari decided it was time to leave Saudi Arabia. The response of the Saudis was to approach Interpol and ask them to issue an international search and arrest warrant.

Interpol is meant to be tackle serious crime, not act as the little helper for régimes that want to kill journalists.

Maryam too finds the memo not entirely convincing:

If it says so – though I am skeptical especially since its has done this before.

In 2009, a number of us wrote to its office complaining about Iranian opposition leaders being included on its wanted list at the request of the Islamic regime of Iran!

McShane has suggestions:

Pressure is important. This time last year the Egyptian military police arrested an Egyptian blogger. Maikel Nabil. He was jubilant about the fall of Mubarak but as he saw the increasing role of the military he criticised the soldiers. A military tribunal sentenced him to three years in prison but an effective international campaign got under way and on Saturday I got a letter from the Egyptian ambassador announcing that Nabil has been freed and pardoned.

So once again it is time to write to the Saudi Ambassador, and to William Hague so that our Ambassador in Riyadh can make protest. The Commonwealth Secretary General should get involved to as it is to Malaysia’s shame that they send this harmless young man to the possibility of a dusty public square and the executioner’s sword. The Home Secretary too should ask why Interpol is acting as an agent for the most blood-thirsty and cruel of régimes. Might Twitter pay for his legal defence. And when of our Royals takes tea with one of their Royals perhaps a few whispered words might be muttered about why in the 21st century Royals — Muslim, Christian, whatever —  should not chop off heads because of a tweet.

Known for his reformist views

PEN International on Kashgari.

PEN demands his immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also calls upon the Saudi authorities to provide him with immediate and effective protection.

According to PEN’s information, Kashgari, a 23-year-old writer from Jeddah, tweeted a series of messages addressed to the Prophet Mohammed on the anniversary of the Prophet’s birth on 4 February 2012, some of which conveyed questions about his faith. Twitter registered more than 30,000 responses to his tweets, many of which accused him of blasphemy and called for his death. On 5 February 2012 Nasser al-Omar, an influential cleric, called for Kashgari to be tried in a Sharia court for apostasy, which is punishable by death, and the Saudi King Abdullah called for his arrest, vowing to seek extradition if Kashgari left the country. On 6 February Kashgari issued an apology and deleted his feed, but to no avail. Someone posted his home address in a YouTube video, and people searched for him at his local mosque. On 7 February 2012, Kashgari fled to Malaysia. He was arrested two days later in Kuala Lumpur on 9 February as he was trying to continue his journey to New Zealand, where he planned to request asylum. He was deported to Saudi Arabia on 12 February 2012. [Read more…]

Those who are wanted by their countries of origin

Malaysia today is defending its extradition of Hamza Kashgari back to Saudi Arabia where he could easily be executed for saying he has questions about Mohammed.

International rights groups have slammed the deportation but Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia was not a safe haven for fugitives.

Jiddah-based newspaper columnist Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained Thursday at the Malaysian airport while in transit to New Zealand. He was deported Sunday despite fears from rights groups that he may face the death penalty if charged with blasphemy over remarks he tweeted that many considered offensive.

“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.

“Those who are wanted by their countries of origin” is it. What if they are “wanted” by their countries of origin for being gay? For being critical of their government? For leaving the religion of their parents? For marrying without the permission of their parents? For not wearing the hijab? For using an electrical switch on “the sabbath”? For laughing at the wrong moment? For not bowing low enough?

Is there any reason too stupid, too vicious, too trivial, for a country to “want” people and Malaysia to obey that “want”?

Probably not, given the profound triviality and viciousness and stupidity of Saudi Arabia’s reasons for “wanting” Kashgari.

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.

Oh is it. Is it really. Tell that to foreign domestic workers there. Tell it to people executed for “adultery.” Tell it to women arrested for driving cars. Tell it to convicts sentenced to having their hands and feet amputated. Tell it to everyone who has been hassled by the Mutawwa’in.

Local rights group Lawyers for Liberty said Kashgari arrived in Malaysia on Feb. 7 from Jordan and was leaving the country two days later to New Zealand to seek asylum when he was detained.

“The cold hard truth is that Malaysia has bent over backwards to please Saudi Arabia, breached international law by not allowing (Kashgari) to seek asylum and instead handed him on a silver platter to his persecutors,” it said.

For shame, Malaysia.

Free Hamza Kashgari

You know the drill – same old same old. Join this Facebook group. You know the media report it when causes get big support on Facebook, so join. I added a few people, because you can’t just invite any more – but I’m shy about adding because it seems so presumptuous, so if I neglected to add you, add yourself. And all your friends. Don’t be shy!

And sign the petition.

And say harsh things about Malaysia as well as Saudi Arabia.