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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Excerpts: Saudi activists protest arrest of liberal writer 2 January 2013

Excerpts: Saudi activists protest arrest of liberal writer 2 January 2013

SOURCE: Aramonline 2 Jan.’13:”Saudi activists urge release of writer who
‘insulted Islam’ “, Agence France Presse

SUBJECT: Saudi activists protest arrest of liberal writer

QUOTE: “A petition signed by around 500 people called for ‘ immediate and
unconditional release’”

FULL TEXT:Almost 500 Saudi people signed a petition calling the government
to release the liberal writer Turki Al-Hamad who is accused of 'insulting
Islam' on Twitter

Saudi intellectuals on Wednesday[2 Jan.] urged the kingdom's crown prince to
order the release of a liberal writer accused of insulting Islam via his
Twitter account.

A petition, signed by around 500 people and addressed to Salman bin Abdul
Aziz, called for Turki al-Hamad's "immediate and unconditional release."

"We hope for, demand and expect a quick decision to be made to correct this
grave error that has been committed against" Hamad, it said.

It slammed his arrest as "unjust... condemnable, reprehensible, shameful,
and unacceptable."

Hamad was arrested -- on the orders of Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin
Nayef bin Abdel Aziz, who was tipped off by a religious organisation -- for
alleged insults to Islam he made on Twitter, his family said on December 24.

The comments he posted had attacked radical Islamists he said were twisting
the Prophet Mohammed's "message of love," and what he described as "a
neo-Nazism which is on the rise in the Arab world -- Islamic extremism".

The postings provoked fierce debate on social networking sites in Saudi
Arabia between his supporters and detractors.

The petition's signatories included Manal al-Sherif and Najla Hariri, two
female activists who defied the kingdom's driving ban on women, and liberal
columnist Ahmad Adnan.

It called for "a public apology" to Hamad, saying he was targeted by online
"incitement" campaigns to try him.

The petition said the interpretation of his comments and subsequent arrest
were a "flagrant violation of the Charter of Human Rights and in an explicit
assault on an individual’s right to free speech."

Online activist Raif Badawi, another Saudi, was arrested in June in Jeddah
and accused of apostasy, which carries the death penalty in the Gulf
kingdom.

Badawi helped set up a liberal Saudi website, which declared a "day of
liberalism" on May 7, calling for protests against the stranglehold of
religious officials on public life in the strict Sunni-ruled monarchy.

Amnesty International had condemned Badawi's prosecution

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Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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