By Basil El-Dabh
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently considering taking legislative action to criminalize insulting Islam.
These laws would also cover blasphemy committed on social media sites and are being discussed five months after the arrest of Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari for tweets he wrote addressing the Prophet Mohamed.
New laws would provide stringent reinforcement to already highly-monitored government censorship and would confront blasphemous statements towards the Prophet and early Muslim clerics.
It is unclear whether these new measures would affect Saudi nationals living abroad.
Revelation of these discussions comes at a time when Egypt’s Constitutional Assembly was reviewing a new article criminalising blasphemy against Mohamed, his family, and other significant figures in early Islamic history.
The article, which was proposed by Al Azhar’s Grand Shiekh Ahmed el-Tayyeb, was also motivated by an effort to clamp down on Shia in Egypt. The article was not added to the constitution.
Hamza Kashgari, a 23 year old Saudi blogger, addressed the Prophet Mohamed in a manner that government officials deemed inappropriate in a series of tweets and was arrested in Malaysia while trying to escape.
Despite repenting for his statements, Kashgari was brought back to Saudi Arabia on February 12, 2012.
He now stands trial and could receive the death penalty.
Twitter use in the Middle East has soared since the beginning of 2011, and KSA has produced one of the highest rates of new Twitter users globally.