MP’s fury at beheading threat to tweeter

FORMER FCO Minister, Denis MacShane MP, is pleading for intervention over the planned execution of a Saudi tweeter.

The Rotherham MP has asked the Foreign and Home Secretaries, and the Commonwealth Secretary General to appeal to the Saudi authorities not to chop off the head of tweeter Hamza Kashgari.

In February 2011, Kashgari, a blogger and provincial journalist, tweeted that he was not sure about everything the Prophet Mohammed stood for. He did not criticise the Prophet Mohammed or make any call against Islam.

But he was attacked by Islamist authorities in Saudi Arabia who called for his execution. His journalist card was removed, his Twitter account shut down, and he was charged with apostasy which carries the penalty of death by beheading under Saudi law.

When he left the country to seek asylum in New Zealand, the Saudis turned to Interpol which issued a search and arrest warrant for his detention. Kashgari was detained at Kuala Lumpur airport last week and send back to Saudi Arabia to await his fate despite many appeals to the Malaysian government, which has no extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, to let him travel on to New Zealand.

Mr MacShane has asked the Foreign Secretary, Dearne politician William Hague, to make representations to the Saudi Arabian government not to kill the journalist after a religious trial.

He is also writing to the Home Secretary, Teresa May, to make clear to Interpol his view that it should not become involved as an agent for repressive regimes, regarding those who flee countries on grounds of human rights oppression.

Finally he is asking the Commonwealth Secretary General to make clear to Malaysia, a Commonwealth nation, that sending back Kashgari is a violation of all the human rights obligations the Commonwealth claims to stand for.

“It is unthinkable that a Tweet could lead to a public beheading or that a Commonwealth nation and Interpol were complicit in acting as help-mates of the repressive Saudi regime,” said MacShane.