When it comes to religious persecution, Saudi Arabia is the gift that keeps on giving.
Hamza Kashgari, a young columnist with liberal leanings, has now fled the country (and in the nick of time..if he had been arrested, he would have had his head cut off…though in SA, it is also likely that he was quietly told to escape by people within the regime so that relatively liberal factions of the ruling elite would not have to behead him).
Blasphemy laws are the most potent weapon in the hardcore Muslim arsenal and it is likely that this prosecution is part of a conservative effort to nip any liberal tendencies in the bud (women have recently sued for the right to drive their own cars..that sort of thing can easily get out of hand).
I do think that further clashes between modern “liberal” notions and the conservative religious establishment are inevitable. Some people think that a society can have both washing machines and conservative Islam, but I am Whiggish on this issue. I think the washing machines come packaged with hidden liberalism and recurrent clashes are inevitable. In the short term (decades?) one can have many options, in the long term, its either washing machines or Somalia. Both are not possible at the same time.
I realize that this is considered a laughably superficial view in some quarters, but I think there are deep reasons behind it and given enough time and patience on the part of the listener, I have never failed to convince on this issue. The capsule version reeks of Islamophobia, orientialism, Westoxication, Marxism and other Eurocentric bullshit, but thats just on the surface…trust me, there are a lot of arguments below the surface. But i have to run now, so later..
Btw, can someone find the offending tweets? 2 minutes of googling failed to do so and I have to run.