A Saudi columnist who has gone into hiding following a popular and official outcry after he was accused of blasphemy and abuse of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has retracted his tweets and announced his repentance.
"My tweets were posted during a [difficult] psychological state. I erred and I pray to God that He will forgive me for what I did," Hamza Kashgari said in a statement.
"I declare my repentance and I distance myself fully from all the misleading ideas that had affected me and made me write expressions that I do not support. I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God. I shall live and die firmly believing in it. I declare my repentance and I strongly adhere to the testimonies that there is no deity but Allah and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah," he wrote, Saudi news site Al Sabq reported on Tuesday.
Kashgari waded into controversy after he posted a series of tweets in which he expressed doubts about the existence of God and abused Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).
Reports said that thousands of scholars, students and online users reacted angrily to his open "sacrilege" and filed cases against him calling for stringent legal action for heresy.
Social media networks have been extensively used to highlight and condemn Kashgari's comments and to call for prompt and decisive action against him, even after he announced his repentance.
According to Sabq in Saudi Arabia and the London-based Al Hayat daily, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud ordered his arrest for crossing red lines and denigrating religious beliefs in God and His Prophet.
People are put on trial for offending other people, and the matter is far more critical when there is a profanation of God or His Prophet, King Abdul Aziz reportedly said in the instructions to the interior minister to arrest Kashgari.
Abdul Aziz Khowja, the Saudi information minister, had ordered that Kashgari who wrote for a Saudi daily be banned from writing for any publication.
"When I read his what he posted, I wept and got very angry that someone in the country of the Two Holy Mosques attack our Prophet (PBUH) in a manner that does not fit a Muslim address the best of men," the minister posted on his twitter account.
By Habib Toumi