PAS wants fair trial guarantee for Saudi youth while others decry deportation

(HARAKAH DAILY) – PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, saying the weekend deportation by the Malaysian government of a Saudi citizen accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad was an inter-governmental affair, has called for his rights to be safeguarded through a fair trial.

“He must be tried in a court of law with his rights to defence fully guaranteed as demanded by Islam,” Mat Sabu told Harakahdaily in his reaction.

Several quarters strongly criticised the Home ministry for its deportation of 23-year old Hamza Kashgari (pic) whose tweets had been labeled as blasphemous by the Saudi authorities.

Rights lawyer and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice president N Surendran said the deportation was unlawful because Malaysia did not have any extradition treaty with the Saudi government.

“What basis did the government have to deport Hamza? There is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and the offence he is accused of is not a capital offence in Malaysia.
“The deportation is thus in breach of our legal norms and constitutional principles,” said N Surendran who also forms part of civil advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty.

Yesterday, despite a High Court process by his lawyers to stop his deportation, Hamza was flown back to the kingdom. He had stopped over in Kuala Lumpur on his way to seek asylum in New Zealand. 

‘Forgiveness in Islam’

Among his tweet posts, which he had since apologised for, is one expressing his love for Prophet Muhammad in conjunction with the birthday of the Prophet. However, in another post, he mentioned: “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.”

Following calls by Saudi netizens and clerics for him to be prosecuted for insulting the Prophet, Hamza claimed that he was just being made a scapegoat “for a larger conflict”.

“There are a lot of people like me in Saudi Arabia who are fighting for their rights,” he said, believed to be in reference to the spate of recent protests against the pro-US Saudi dynasty that had been largely out of the media radar.

Surendran meanwhile accused the Home ministry and the police of deceiving Hamza’s lawyers by not revealing his whereabouts, adding that prime minister Najib Razak “must answer for the black mark upon Malaysia’s international reputation”.

Meanwhile, local Muslim group Islamic Renaissance Front said that despite its claim of subscribing to Islamic laws, Saudi Arabia had “a very poor record in ensuring fair trials compounded by a history of denial of rights to lawyers and client”, and warned that Hamza could not be accorded a fair trial in such circumstances.

In its statement to Harakahdaily, IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa reminded that Hamza had already regretted his tweet, and as such it was only right that he be forgiven.

“The importance accorded to forgiveness in Islam is very much tied to another key value of the deen which is the freedom of speech and conscience. This can be seen clearly in verse 256 of Al-Baqarah which states that ‘There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error’, the statement added.

“In appealing for the humane treatment of Mr Kashgari, the Islamic Renaissance Front once again points to the values of freedom, justice and democracy in Islam.”