By Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
RIYADH, 4 June 2008 — The Turkish Embassy in Riyadh confirmed to Arab News yesterday that a Turkish barber who was facing the death penalty for allegedly slandering the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was released on Monday.
The case of another Turkish barber, Sabri Bogday, who was sentenced to death for the same offense 13 months ago, is still in the appeals process in a Jeddah court.
“Ersin Taze, who was arrested by Saudi authorities about 30 days ago for allegedly insulting the Prophet, has been released,” Turkish Ambassador Naci Koru said.
Following an appeal from the Turkish Embassy, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman intervened in Taze’s case and asked local officials to expedite the legal process. The court subsequently dismissed the case for lack of evidence.
Following a complaint made by a Saudi citizen that the barber had slandered the Prophet, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested Taze from his shop.
A Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, provided details about the governor’s intervention. “The embassy, after knowing that Taze is being implicated falsely, requested Prince Salman to intervene in the case,” he said. “In turn, the prince ordered local officials to speed up the trial or release the accused if there was no evidence against him.”
Taze is reportedly planning to leave the Kingdom for good.
Blasphemy Case on Appeal
Turkish officials, meanwhile, are pressing on with the issue of Bogday. President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made telephone conversations with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah about the case.
According to reports, Bogday got into an argument with his neighbor, an Egyptian tailor, and he was arrested after the tailor told the police that he had sworn at God. While Bogday has been in prison for 15 months, the Egyptian who made the allegation has disappeared.
Bogday’s execution has been put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal. The hearing is expected to take place in about two weeks.
Source: Arab News