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Saudi mufti rejects call to try columnist accused of blasphemy in non-religious court

February 19, 2012 - Riyadh

Saudi Arabia's mufti, the country's highest religious figure, has rejected calls to shift the trial of a controversial columnist, who was accused of blasphemy and abusing Prophet Mohammed, from religious courts to the information ministry.

Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Shaikh said that Hamza Kashgari, charged of disrespecting God and insulting Prophet Mohammad in his Twitter account, will face trial in the country's religious-court only.

"We are in a Muslim country and we have a fair justice system," the mufti told local Arabic daily, Al Watan.

"All matters related to justice should be reviewed by Shariah courts as God the Almighty said in the Holy Quran. The justice system in Saudi Arabia is fair," he added.

The mufti also stressed that young Saudis should avoid using "bad words", Gulf News reports.

"I advise young people to follow God's teachings and to preserve religious values and avoid bad words and expressions that they might regret later," the mufti said.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old columnist was recently deported by the Malaysian authorities, despite fears that he may face execution Saudi Arabia.


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