Islamists are calling for the execution of a young Saudi Arabian who tweeted last week about the Prophet Mohammed. "I have loved the rebel in you, you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me," Hamza Kashgari, 23, wrote in a tweet addressed to Mohammed. But "I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he added. "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." His tweets triggered more than 30,000 responses in a single day, many of them from enraged Saudis calling for his death. Kashgari has since deleted his Twitter account, and apologized, but his home address was posted on YouTube and vigilantes have been hunting him at his mosque, reports the Daily Beast.
A leading cleric is demanding that he be tried for apostasy, punishable by death, and the king has already issued a warrant for his arrest, according to local media. "I'm afraid, and I don't know where to go," said a stunned Kashgari, who has already fled the country. There was "an amazing anger, I've never seen anything like it in my life," said Saudi blogger Fouad al-Farhan, who added Kashgari "crossed the line" with his tweets. "We've never had our own Salman Rushdie before." Friends say they're desperately trying to save Kashgari's life now. He says he never expected such an extreme response. “I knew I was being monitored. I considered it a form of psychological warfare,” says Kashgari. “I didn’t give it that much attention, because I didn’t want them to think I was losing the battle.” (Read more Hamza Kashgari stories.)