KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A Saudi journalist was deported to his homeland Sunday to faces blasphemy charges and possible execution, Malaysian officials said.
Hamza Kashgari, a columnist for Al-Bilad, a Saudi newspaper, was arrested Thursday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at the request of Saudi officials, Bikyamasr.com reported.
The journalist allegedly posted comments on Twitter about the Prophet Mohammed's birthday last week, prompting thousands to call for his execution for blasphemy, the Web site said.
Human rights groups had made pleas against Kashgari's deportation, though Malaysia's Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the man must face charges in his home country.
"Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement (with Saudi Arabia) by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other," he said.
A social media activist and blogger known only as Abdallah told Bikyamasr.com the incident is "part of the continued attacks against individuals who speak up publicly about issues."
He said if the Islamic world is to find freedom and justice, "We must be open to ideas we don't necessarily agree with. We are still a long way off from that."