A complaint from the Global Commission for Introducing the Messenger was what prompted the Saudi Interior Minister to order the arrest of liberal writer Turki al-Hamad, an official with the Commission said Thursday. The writer was arrested Monday after he posted a series of controversial tweets about Islam.
“Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif has been contacted and made aware of what happened and the expressions used by the writer,” Khaled al-Shaya, assistant general-secretary of the Commission told CNN Arabic. The step was taken after consulting the Grand Mufti who agreed that filing a complaint with the Interior Minister was the right course of action, al-Shaya said.
The Riyadh-based Global Commission for Introducing the Messenger is an independent affiliate of the Muslim World League, an international non-governmental organization founded in Mecca in 1962. The Commission was established as a response to the controversy following the publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
On its website, the Commission lists a number of objectives and functions including “observing campaigns negatively targeting the personality of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and responding thereto with lawful means.”
Saudi novelist and political analyst Turki al-Hamad has published a series of tweets last Saturday criticizing Islamists. In one of his tweets, al-Hamad controversially stated that “Our Prophet had come to rectify the faith of Abraham, and now is a time when we need someone to rectify the faith of Mohammed.”
For the Commission, this “was not an expression of opinion but rather a clear insult,” al-Shaya told CNN. He added that they could not initiative legal action in similar cases like the “Innocence of Islam” film due to practical reasons. They acted in the case of al-Hamad because he is a Saudi citizen based in Saudi Arabia, he said.
Al-Hamad remains in detention since Monday but his family was allowed to visit him, according to activist Waleed Abu al-Khair.
This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that applies a strict interpretation of Islam, arrested persons for allegedly insulting the prophet or religion. Earlier this year, young writer Hamza Kashgari was arrested after he published controversial tweets about Prophet Mohammed.