Saudi Tweets Spark Outrage, Death Threats
And we think we have major religious divisions about birth control although, come to think of it, some do kill doctors.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—A 23-year-old Saudi columnist fled the country, his associates said Wednesday, after his tweets on the human nature of the Prophet Muhammad led prominent clerics and thousands of their followers to use Twitter, YouTube, email and fax to demand the writer’s execution.
The speed, number and intensity of messages calling for the death of the writer, Hamza Kashgari, stunned many Saudis.
“Your duty is to defend our religion against those atheists and not let it pass by with no punishment—you must write in the papers, in the Internet, and write the government, and not be silenced,” cleric Nasser al-Omar urged the public in a video posted on YouTube.
Mr. Omar appeared in the video shuddering with sobs in outrage at what he said was Mr. Kashgari’s insult to the Prophet Muhammad.
One tweet offered 10,000 riyals ($2,666) to Mr. Kashgari’s killer. Another posted an image of Mr. Kashgari’s house taken off Google Earth. “Dead man walking!” another jeered.
The furor, kicked off by Mr. Kashgari’s tweets over the weekend, sparked 30,000 tweets in one 24-hour period, according to a Saudi blogger who cited an Arabic Twitter tracker.
Saudi newspapers reported King Abdullah had ordered the arrest of Mr. Kashgari and an investigation for possible blasphemy, though the reports couldn’t be confirmed. The Saudi information minister said via Twitter that Mr. Kashgari would be banned from writing for newspapers or magazines.