Feb 162012
 

237 - Interpol 168x100On February 4th a 23 year old Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari posted three tweets on his Twitter account referring to Mohammad.

 “On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

Within hours there were tens of thousands of Twitter responses calling Mr. Kashgari an apostate and a blasphemer and that he should be executed.  A Facebook page was created to call for his execution with over 13,000 people joining it.

Fearing for his life, Kashgari boarded a plane for New Zealand on Sunday.  Unfortunately for him it had a stop-over in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country.  Upon landing he was arrested and repatriated back to Saudi Arabia.  Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur said Kashgari was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Interpol has issued a rather vague statement distancing itself from the case.

 “The assertion that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system in this case is wholly misleading and erroneous.

“(Interpol) has not been involved in the case involving a Saudi blogger arrested in Malaysia and   deported to Saudi Arabia. No Interpol channels, its National Central Bureaus in Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh nor its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France were involved at any time in this case.”

It is difficult to determine whether or not Interpol was involved because the statement it released does not answer the question directly.

It says that it is misleading and erroneous that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system. Erroneous perhaps but how is it misleading? Did any other Muslim country ask Interpol to red flag Mr. Kashgari’s flight? They don’t say.

Interpol also refers to a “Saudi blogger” which may or may not be Kargashi who is a journalist and not primarily a blogger. There is a lot of evasion and possible misdirection in Interpol’s statement.

On the other hand the Malaysian police have been pretty clear that they arrested the man due to Interpol’s involvement at the request of Saudi Arabia. If this is true then Interpol has a lot to answer for.

Here are some facts regarding Interpol:

It is not a police force. It does not make arrests. It is primarily a central hub of information between national police forces from 190 countries. It collects and relays information on individual criminals and suspects alerting police departments as to their whereabouts. It’s headquartered in Lyon, France and has several offices throughout the world. In Canada it shares offices with the RCMP in Ottawa. Canada’s annual contribution to their budget is $2 million.

According to Interpol’s website it does not involve itself in political or religious matters and follows the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights when determining when to get involved in disseminating information. Part of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights is the right to free speech which is contained in its preamble, and freedom of religion.

Clearly, if Interpol had any involvement in the arrest of this man for simply saying that he did not want to pray for Muhammad, and if Mr. Kashgari gets executed for his beliefs then Interpol should consider itself complicit in his execution. If such is the case, whoever was responsible for passing on to Malaysia the fact that Mr. Kashgari was on the flight to New Zealand must be held personally accountable.

Malaysia should not get off scot-free either. Their extradition of Mr. Kashgari, without any due process, back into the hands of the Saudis is unforgivable. They don’t even have a formal agreement on extradition with Saudi Arabia. Anyone traveling anywhere near Malaysia should take note that if at any time in their past they may have said anything about Islam which might be taken as offense they may end up being executed for it, thanks to Malaysia. Besides Saudi Arabia, a despotic, backward country of homophobes and misogynists which should be ostracized by the civilized world we can now add Malaysia to the list of pariah nations.

As for our own involvement in Interpol I think our government should demand a clearer statement from Interpol regarding this case, and if they find they were involved should seriously consider restricting the information it shares with this organization for fear that innocent Canadian be rounded up for their religious or political views.

To be sure, on the face of it an organization like Interpol which has been around since 1923 may very well play an important role in the capture of real criminals and terrorists but since many of its member nations are predominantly Muslim (including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) then its commitment to non-involvement in political and religious crimes is suspect.