World Association of News Publishers

Saudi netizen arrested in Malayisa over controversial Twitter comments.

Language switcher

Available in:

Saudi netizen arrested in Malayisa over controversial Twitter comments.

Article ID:


23 year-old Saudi Arabian writer and blogger Hamza Kashgari, who fled the country earlier this week after being accused of blasphemy for Twitter comments he made regarding the Prophet Mohammed, was arrested by Malaysian authorities late yesterday. A police spokesman told Reuters earlier today that his arrest came as part of an Interpol operation involving Malaysian police, a statement later denied by Interpol.

Kashgari's tweets caused outrage in the conservative Saudi society, where some Islamic clerics accused him of blasphemy and apostasy, both of which are considered capital crimes in the Islamic Kingdom. His tweets were released just before the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed's birth, and included his own thoughts and reflections on the occasion.

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second.

“On your birthday, 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 speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third.

His comments were rapidly retweeted by Saudi Twitter users until they reached the rest of the twittersphere and beyond. Kashgari's Twitter feed was quickly flooded with responses, registering 30,000 replies within hours. Despite deleting his Twitter account, removing the comments and releasing a long statement the following day in which he apologised for his offensive comments and begged for forgiveness, for many Saudis the damage was already done. 

In his only interview after fleeing the country, Hamza Kashgari told the Daily Beast website that he believed he was being made a "scapegoat for a larger conflict". 

"I view my actions as part of a process towards freedom," he said. "I was demanding my right to practice the most basic of human rights - freedom of expression and thought - so nothing was done in vain."


Sources: The Daily Beast , Reuters , The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information


(Original article updated 13-2-2012)


Farah Wael's picture

Farah Wael


2012-02-10 20:04

Author information