Malaysia deports Saudia Arabian blogger

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Her Excellency Hayati Binti Ismail
High Commissioner for Malaysia
60 Boteler Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 8Y7

Dear High Commissioner,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE condemns the recent deportation of Saudi Arabian columnist and blogger Hamza Kashgari over tweets deemed offensive to Islam.

On February 7, 2012, Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia, en route to New Zealand, amid calls for his execution by conservative religious leaders. In the preceding days, Kashgari had tweeted about his religious views. As a result, and even after removing the tweets and apologizing, he received threats for perceived blasphemy. Arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 9 to complete his journey to New Zealand, Kashgari was arrested with no charge, held for several days, and deported back to Saudi Arabia just hours before an injunction was received from the High Court.

This situation is a result of a flagrant disregard for international human rights standards, including Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further, the decision to deport an asylum seeker to a country known for its draconian and excessive punishments is both dangerous and irresponsible. Amnesty International’s call to halt the deportation was also ignored, despite copious evidence of rights violations against dissidents in Saudi Arabia.

Asylum seekers and refugees who are victims in their home countries must not be further victimized by deportations that enable further abuses including execution. CJFE demands that Malaysia recognize freedom of expression and freedom of religion, including dissent in opinion from prevailing and official religious beliefs.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President