However unwise

The long arm of the law shouldn’t be helping theocratic hell-holes like Saudi Arabia to arrest people for non-crimes like saying something critical about Mohammed.

Interpol has been accused of abusing its powers after Saudi Arabia used the organisation’s red notice system to get a journalist arrested in Malaysia for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Kashgari, a newspaper columnist, fled Saudi Arabia after posting a tweet on the prophet’s birthday that sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. The posting, which was later deleted, read: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you … I will not pray for you.”

More than 13,000 people joined a Facebook page titled “The Saudi People Demand the Execution of Hamza Kashgari”.

Notice that that “insulted” in the first para should have scare-quotes on it. That tweet is not “insulting.” It’s thoughtful dissent, at most.

Notice the disgusting fact that 30 13 thousand people are willing to say he should be killed for uttering such a mild and thoughtful dissent.

Clerics in Saudi Arabia called for him to be charged with apostasy, a religious offence punishable by death. Reports suggest that the Malaysian authorities intend to return him to his native country.

Religious offences should not be extraditable. Nobody should ever be extradited to Saudi Arabia for any perceived “religious offence” under any circumstances.

Jago Russell, the chief executive of the British charity Fair Trials International, which has campaigned against the blanket enforcement of Interpol red notices, said: “Interpol should be playing no part in Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of Hamza Kashgari, however unwise his comments on Twitter.

Oh just leave off the last bit, dammit. What was unwise about it? Unless “unwise” just means “risky to self,” but it can’t mean that, because Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be pursuing Kashgari for risking his safety nor would Interpol help Saudi Arabia for that reason. Russell apparently felt some horrible need to appease the murderous theocratic bullies by pretending to think Kashgari really did do something just a little bit wrong. Don’t do that.


  1. Stonyground says

    I suppose that one of the problems with international agreements is that every country is entitled to its own laws, no matter how perverse. If the countries of the world get together and come up with a system for chasing down fugitives, we have to agree on that point for the system to work. My faith in human nature might have been given a bit of a boost if Kashgari had “given the authorities the slip” and escaped to a more civilised country.

    It is worth noting that the Islamic religion has to be a bit shit if even the mildest dissent has to be stamped out by executing people. Like all religions, they risk a mass exodus if they allow people to go around pointing out how absurd their beliefs are. Strange that we don’t get chemists running around killing people for mild criticism of the periodic table.

  2. says

    Reports suggest that the Malaysian authorities intend to return him to his native country.

    If this is true it’s sadly unsurprising from the Malaysians. (I suppose it’s a country’s business whether or not it offers sanctuary to people but (a) it’s really nasty if they’re guaranteed death and (b) I’m not sure they’d be so quick to detain him if it was for blaspheming against another faith.) Their government is proud to distinguish itself from the “extremists”. What this means is homosexuals would be caned instead of killed and heretics are packed off to “re-education camps” instead of being jailed. Such things that make a “moderate”.

  3. coragyps says

    “Strange that we don’t get chemists running around killing people for mild criticism of the periodic table.”

    Actually, we chemists do that quite a lot…..

  4. GordonWillis says

    Don’t do that.

    No, but people are such cowards. It is frightening that 30,000 people want to kill someone for expressing doubt, even so mildly. But they are wrong. Just wrong, absolutely wrong, and they shouldn’t be listened to. Well, actually, they should be regarded and treated as extreme to the point of insanity.

  5. Timothy (TRiG) says

    The Guardian article has been updated to state that Interpol is denying involvement. I suppose it’s a good thing that they feel the need to distance themselves from what happened.


  6. Niall says


    Maybe we should tend to believe Interpol. This all happened so fast, that the cynic in me can’t quite believe that an international, bureaucratic organisation was able to move that quickly. Anyway, won’t there be some sort of paper trail if they were involved, so it would be dumb to deny it?

    Also, is this hyperbole warranted: “Notice the disgusting fact that 30 thousand people are willing to say he should be killed…” ? I noted that there were a lot of responses on Twitter and some of those were death threats – were ALL of them death threats? Perhaps some were just critical or argued with him, perhaps some were even understanding or supportive. Or is it your view that because they were Muslim, those respondents must have been issuing death threats? This seems to be viewing Muslims as a monolithic block (a single “community”), which you’ve recently been arguing against.

  7. says

    Niall – it was a typo (or a slip of the memory) – I was referring to the Facebook group called “The Saudi People Demand the Execution of Hamza Kashgari”. It has 13 thousand members, not 30.

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