It is always interesting when governmental bodies entrusted with defending the inherent values of our societies such as free speech remain silent when free speech is threatened. But when the threat comes from Saudi Arabia the reasons are obvious.
Saudi Arabia has two principal exports, oil and Wahabi Islam with its attendant terrorism. The latter our governments ignore as the price we have to pay for the former.
If the archbishop of Canterbury wants to see how Sharia works in practice he need look no further than our ally the desert kingdom. Beheading, amputation, flogging and stoning are all public spectacles in Saudi Arabia. Crimes such as murder, rape and theft are treated with unrelenting severity; as are ‘crimes’ such as blasphemy, apostasy, homosexuality and being a woman out alone without permission or a male escort.
The corrupt family dictatorship running Saudi Arabia have obtained the return from Malaysia of Hamza Kashgari, a 23 year old Saudi journalist. Kashgari had fled to Malaysia after he had posted three tweets, as though written to Muhammad, on Muhammad’s birthday. The tweets were quickly removed and Kashgari apologised, but the campaign against him had gained too much momentum.
Kashgari wrote, “I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me.” In ultra authoritarian Islam the description of Muhammad as being a rebel was a bit risky but overall the tweet was acceptably fawning. Unfortunately he then wrote, “I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.” He further wrote “I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speaks to you as a friend, no more.”
In yet another tweet, probably as offensive to the Saudi authorities, Kashgari wrote, “No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice.”
Within 24 hours there had been more than 30,000 tweets calling for his death and in a YouTube video Nasser al Omar, a Saudi cleric, can be seen in tears as he too calls for Kashgari’s death. He claims he is weeping because Muslims are not doing enough to defend their faith.
The Saudi government contacted Interpol who issued a ‘red notice’ declaring Kashgari a wanted man. He is at present being returned to Saudi.
In response to criticisms of the red notice system, Interpol has said: “There are safeguards in place. The subject of a red notice can challenge it through an independent body, the commission for the control of Interpol’s files (CCF).”
Don’t place any bets on the chances of Kashgari making a ‘challenge through an independent body’ from a Saudi torture chamber.
Not only have there been calls throughout Saudi society for Kashgari’s immediate trial, there have also been calls for the arrest and trial of those who have tweeted support for him. “Those who supported the contents of Kashgari’s tweets are considered criminal exactly like him,” said Khaled Abu Rashid, a lawyer and legal consultant. He called for any sentence passed on Khashgari to be imposed on his supporters too. The sentence for ‘blasphemy’ in Saudi Arabia is death.
From the UN, silence. From the EU, silence. From the Obama administration, silence. From British Foreign Secretary William Hague, silence.
Every time we ignore or excuse 7th century Wahabism we make it more difficult for moderate Muslims to effect change. By accepting radical Islam as mainstream we weaken those who would be our allies and store up trouble for ourselves.
In 1939 the world had to pay a huge price for appeasement, yet it is still in fashion. The one lesson we learn from history is that we never learn.