Why liberals in the West don’t support liberals in the Islamic world is beyond me.
Novelist Turki al-Hamad, 58, one of Saudi Arabia’s more unapologetic and outspoken liberal voices, is now in custody for a series of posts he published on his Twitter last weekend comparing fundamentalist Islamist ideology and its strict social controls to Nazism and suggesting that political Islamists like those allied with Saudi Arabia’s royal family have taken their adulation of Prophet Muhammad too far.
This is dangerous language in a country where apostasy is a capital offense, especially in Saudi Arabia’s non-codified justice system that doesn’t follow judicial precedent and instead allows judges to interpret guilt as they see fit based on Islamic doctrine. Hamad’s arrest on Monday came only a week after a hearing in a website editor’s blasphemy case was referred to a higher court based on an April 2011 royal decree aimed at cracking down on electronic communications that insult Islam.
The Twitter post that most riled the kingdom’s formidable conservative religious establishment and Ministry of Information was this one, written in Arabic: “Our Prophet had come to rectify the faith of Abraham, and now is a time when we need someone to rectify the faith of Muhammad.”
That is a shocking statement to those who believe the Prophet received Allah’s perfect and final revelation.
By suggesting the Saudi religious authorities are guilty of the very thing they believe they are defending against, and that this needs to be “rectified,” Hamad’s criticism was viewed as an assault on Islam itself and a direct challenge to state defenders of the faith.