France 'concerned' at Palestinian jailed for blasphemy blog

16th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

France said Thursday it was "concerned" about the arrest of a young Palestinian blogger jailed for posting "blasphemous" remarks online.

"France is concerned by the risks of damage to fundamental freedoms and in particular the freedom of expression, contained in the 'crime of blasphemy'," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

"Freedom of religion and of conscience and freedom of expression... guarantee the right to have no religion and the right to express one's opinions without being harassed," she told reporters.

Walid al-Husseini, 26, was arrested in the West Bank city of Qalqilya at the end of October accused of "blasphemy against the prophet and the Koran" for posts on his blog and on social networking site Facebook.

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, has urged the Palestinian Authority to either charge him or release him and said his continuing detention without charge is a violation of Palestinian law.

A new post appeared on Husseini's blog page earlier this month in which the author apologises for the offence caused by his blog.

"I apologise for the offence I have caused to all religions and especially to Islam with that which was published on the pages of this blog," it says in a post allegedly written by Husseini.

It was not clear how he managed to post the blog entry while being held in jail.

On the English-language version of his blog, entitled "Proud Atheist," Husseini explains why he decided to renounce Islam, describing it as "this hollow faith which, just like any other religion, (is) a mythical ideology put at the service of politics."

© 2010 AFP

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