Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tweet Results In Arrest Of Saudi Blogger

The Prophet Mohammad is revered by Muslims throughout the world. The Koran makes it very clear that the Prophet Mohammad is to be treated with the utmost respect at all times and in all things.

So, when Saudi Arabian blogger Hamza Kashgari, 23, Tweeted an imaginary conversation with Mohammad, at one point questioning his own faith , religious authorities pounced.

Kashgari is just the latest in a line of artists who have faced persecution for their work. For the most part the Islamic world is not tolerant when it comes to issues of the Koran. Islamic extremists have shown that they simply will not accept any breach of their religious doctrine. The punishment, very often, is death, or at least imprisonment.

Kashgari attempted to flee Saudi Arabia for New Zealand, but was arrested in Malaysia which has a heavily Muslim population. He has publicly apologized for his Tweets and has offered repentance before the court, and many are saying although he will be punished severely he will likely not be put to death.

I am not here to debate the right or wrong of what one religious group believes. I can look right outside my office window and find plenty of Christian related problems.
No, I am here instead to talk about the bravery of one writer: Kashgari.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, with a government which takes a very strict interpretation of Islam, he surely realized that his actions, his Tweets, would cause a stir. But he did it any way.

I don't think Kashgari was trying to make a statement. I think he was expressing his inner-most thoughts; doubts about his faith; questions he needed answered. His messages were not meant to cast aspirations on his faith. They were a cry for help to understand his own beliefs.

This is the essence of writing. We write not because we know something, but because we wish to know something. Perhaps we need to know something about ourselves, perhaps we wish to know something about others, but whatever it is that drives us to question, that is exactly what our writing is: questioning.

Unfortunately, in some places in the world, questions can still get you killed.

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