Saudi Arabian leaders are discussing new laws to penalize insults against Islam, reports a Saudi newspaper. The new regulations could even extend to social media and stipulate severe punishments for offenders.
“Within the next two months the Shura Council will reveal the outcome of study on the regulations to combat the criticism of the basic tenets of Islamic Sharia,” anonymous sources told Saudi news outlet Al Watan.
Saudi Arabia follows an ultra-conservative branch of Islam known as Wahhabism, under which blasphemy can be punishable by death.
The Saudi government has been cracking down on the recent surge of Twitter and social media users in the country. The tightening of already stringent government control stems from the case of young Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari arrested for tweeting a series of comments concerning the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.
The comments, in which Kashgari addressed the Prophet as an equal, were met with uproar, provoking a torrent of calls for his arrest and death threats. The 23-year-old fled the country only to be extradited from Malaysia and returned to Saudi Arabia. He is now in custody awaiting trial.