Saudi Arabia is studying new laws to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday.
Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic sharia, unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told al-Watan, adding that there
could be severe punishments for violators.
Criticism penalised under the law would include that of the religious character Mohammed, early Muslim figures and clerics, it said.
The (regulations) are important at the present time because violations over social networks on the Internet have been observed in the past months, the sources said. Refering to the case of thw Saudi blogger and columnist Hamza
Kashgari. He was was arrested for tweeting comments deemed as insulting to Mohammad. Kashgari said that there were things he liked and disliked about him.
A well-known Saudi writer, Turki Al-Hamad, was arrested on Monday for tweets deemed critical of Islam. Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef reportedly ordered the arrest.
The response online has been polarised, with many using the hashtag ( Translated: The arrest of Turki Al-Hamad ) to come to Al-Hamad's defence and others using ( Translated: Turki Al-Hamad the heretic ) to condemn him.
The specific tweet Al-Hamad was allegedly arrested for, shown below, implies he thinks Islam should be corrected:
[Translation] Our Prophet came to rectify the faith of Abraham, and now is a time when we need someone to rectify the faith of Mohammed.