Arab News is reporting that Saudi Arabian journalist Hamza Kashgari repented in Saudi court on Tuesday for posting what many in the Muslim world believed to be insulting comments regarding Islam and the prophet Muhammad on his Twitter feed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In response to the overwhelming backlash to these tweets, Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia seeking political asylum in New Zealand, but was detained by Malaysian authorities (with, according to Malaysian police, Interpol’s assistance) and extradited back to Saudi Arabia to be tried for apostasy.
Apostasy is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Other crimes carrying the death penalty in this Arab nation include repeated drug use, adultery, armed robbery, witchcraft and sorcery. The Saudi government reported 26 executions carried out in 21 by public beheading, and at least two people were executed in the same manner for sorcery last year.
The Riyadh court’s decision has not yet been confirmed at the time of publishing, despite rumors in the blogosphere that Kashgari is to be released.