ISLAMABAD: Popular Pakistani analyst and commentator Zaid Hamid has been sentenced for eight years in jail and 1,000 lashes by a Saudi court for criticising the Saudi royalty, according to local media reports.
After being reported by several Pakistani websites, the news spread like wild fire on Pakistani social media stirring a highly charged debate between his zealous supporters and foes.
However the Pakistani Embassy in Riyadh or the Foreign Office maintained a studies silence over the issue.
According to media reports Saudi authorities have denied a request by the Pakistan embassy for consulor access to Zaid Hamid.
In Medina, a team from Counsel General Jeddah was denied access to Zaid Hamid and was not allowed to meet the analyst, Dawn reported.
Diplomatic sources had said that Zaid Hamid was arrested last month for making an alleged provocative speech in Madina criticising the Saudi royalty.
Hamid was arrested during a private visit to the Kingdom with his wife.
Our embassy in Riyadh has informed us that Mr Zaid Hamid was arrested about two weeks ago. Since then, the embassy has been working with the local authorities to get consular access, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah had told a news briefing in Islamabad.
Due to the efforts of the embassy, his wife was able to talk to him. Again, due to the efforts of the embassy, his wife will be able to meet with him on 30 June, he said without giving further details.
Hamid has been often criticised for his views, which have been slammed as conspiracy theories. He has been also accused of promoting hate speech against Jews, Hindus and Pashtuns.
According to Hamid, suicide bombers in Pakistan are Hindus and not Muslims because they are not circumcised. Among other things, he also claimed that the Jews were behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which 164 people were killed in a series of 12 coordinated attacks.
His fame as political commentator started when he participated in the Pakistani TV show Brasstacks. He also had his own series, "Economic Terrorism", in which he criticised capitalism.
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