by Khaled Abu Toameh
A Palestinian blogger faces life imprisonment for criticizing Islam on Facebook. The 26-year-old blogger, Waleed al-Husseini, was arrested recently by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.
His crime: He created a Facebook account named Allah and "insulted the divine essence."
Those who fund the Palestinian Authority must put pressure on its leaders to respect freedom of speech and refrain from imposing Islamic Sharia laws in the West Bank.
Otherwise, it will be only a matter of time before Palestinians in the West Bank are beheaded or have their hands amputated or are stoned to death for adultery and theft. If the Palestinian Authority is not made to understand the repercussions of its actions, the West Bank will be turned into another radical Islamic entity like the one that already exists in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Husseni, who is a Muslim from the city of Kalkilya, is accused of posting arguments in favor of atheism and describing the God of Islam as having the attributes of a "primitive Bedouin." According to Associated Press, he also called Islam a "blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance."
One could understand if this case happened in Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. But the fact that it is happening under the Palestinian Authority, which claims to be a liberal and moderate regime, is extremely troubling.
If anything, this case shows that the Palestinian government is on its way to becoming an Islamic fundamentalist regime. The irony is that the young man was arrested for insulting Islam at a time when the Palestinian security forces are waging a massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the West Bank.
The arrest of al-Husseini is seen by some Palestinians as an attempt by Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad to appease Hamas. Others see the case as an attempt by the two men to show the Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic world that they are more Hamas than Hamas when it comes to "defending" Islam.
The arrest of the blogger coincided with the revival of "reconciliation" talks between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas in Syria. The two rival parties have been under heavy pressure from Palestinians to end their conflict and form a "national unity government."
Of course it is not all right to insult any religion, and there is nothing wrong with having laws that hold offenders accountable for such crimes. But by denouncing the Palestinian blogger as an infidel and threatening to sentence him to life in prison, the secular Palestinian government in the West Bank is acting as if it is in Tehran or in the Gaza Strip.
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