A Saudi Arabian blogger, Hamza Kashgari, tweeted his imaginary conversation with Prophet Mohammad. He said that he “loved the rebel in you” and “loved some aspects of you, hated others.” Hamza did not realise that his tweets could land him a death sentence.
Tens of thousands of Saudis online then demanded that Hamza be punished for his secularists tweets to serve as a lesson to others.
The Saudi Information Minister Abdul-Aziz Khoja tweeted
“When I read what he posted, I wept and got very angry that someone in the country of the Two Holy Mosques attacks our Prophet in a manner that does not fit a Muslim.”
After the barrage of online attacks and threats, Hamza deleted his tweets and decided to flee Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in Malaysia while en route to New Zealand. Hamza was extradited to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to face charges of blasphemy which is illegal in the country and can even carry the death penalty.
Human rights organizations led byand are calling for Hamza’s release, saying he should have the right to freedom of expression.
Saudi Arabia’s monarch controls all media outlets in that country, but it’s finding it difficult to control the internet. Hamza told The Daily Beast that he viewed his actions as part of a process toward freedom.
“I believe I’m just a scapegoat for a larger conflict. There are a lot of people like me in Saudi Arabia who are fighting for their rights.”
Hamza has since apologized extensively for his tweets, according to Reuters. He could be pardoned if the courts find that he is repentant enough.