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Jul 17 2013

Saudi Arabia condemns Twitter users to hell

In yet another sign of how the proliferation of social media is worrying authoritarian regimes because it allows people to communicate laterally easily and bypass official news channels, the head of the religious police in Saudi Arabia has warned Twitter users that they have pretty much forfeited any hope of a good afterlife. In addition, the country’s most senior cleric (who has the Monty Pythonesque title of ‘Grand Mufti’) has called Twitter users ‘fools’.

These concerns are arising because Saudi Arabia is one of the most rapidly growing countries in terms of Twitter user base and people are using it to exchange political and other issues.

Philip Bump writes that earlier attempts by the Saudi government to suppress Twitter use have not worked which may be why they are now trying to make it seem sacrilegious, hoping to exploit in their favor the religious feelings of a seemingly devout country.

Good. I am firmly convinced that in the fight between modernity and religion, religion will lose. There is simply no way of combating the ease and appeal of easy and quick communications systems because the elites also need them. So invoking religion to combat social media will have the net result of decreasing the influence of religion.

I suspect that this attempt by the Saudis will fizzle like the attempt by Orthodox Jews to discourage the use of the internet.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Doug Little

    I am firmly convinced that in the fight between modernity and religion, religion will lose.

    I think that’s understating it quite a bit. Religion isn’t just going to lose it’s going to get crushed.

  2. 2
    curcuminoid

    So if you’re Christian Twitter gets you out of hell and if you’re Muslim it gets you into hell. What happens if you are Jewish?

  3. 3
    Alverant

    I think he has a point about calling them fools because I see tweeting as rather silly. But to each their own and I can’t condemn someone for it. But talking about what should be shared online is another topic.

  4. 4
    slc1

    Jews don’t believe in hell.

  5. 5
    Marcus Ranum

    the proliferation of social media is worrying authoritarian regimes because it allows people to communicate laterally easily and bypass official news channels

    Unless they’re governments friendly to the US. You know, when the US wants Iranian rebellious youth to be able to cause trouble, they pressure Twitter to stay up and defend itself against government attempts to shut it down, but when it’s rioting in the UK then it suddenly becomes unreliable and GCHQ gets to pore over all the data.

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    They believe in an afterlife in which there’s correction applied for what you did in life, do they not?

  7. 7
    Some Old Programmer

    And here I thought Saudi Arabia was hell.

  8. 8
    sailor1031

    SOP beat me to it. If you live in Saudi Arabia you’re damn close to hell already..

  9. 9
    Marcus Ranum

    And here I thought Saudi Arabia was hell

    It’s not bad. Good food, nice people. Traffic sucks. Their government is a dictatorial monarchy installed by British imperialists; it’s hardly the people’s fault that they were used as pawns in the “great game” and have been kept uneducated and disempowered by a typical “church+state” set-up such as the ones that kept Europe in thrall for generations. The people on the ground are just like people pretty much everywhere. Although, admittedly, the summers are hot.

  10. 10
    bmiller

    I’m not so sanguine. Some segments of the religious world are using modern technology very effectively.

  11. 11
    bmiller

    slc1 has a point here. Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild (or his decades-after-the-fact transcribers) took Greek conceptions of Hell, ramped up the eternal torture and suffering, and became a key part of the doctrine. Especially as implemented by the horrific Catholic Church for social control, but now really emphasized by fundamentalist Protestantism and evangelical sects.

    :)

  12. 12
    Acolyte of Sagan

    #Thinking about it, I wish the use of @Twitter did condemn it’s #users to @Hell. It might just stop millions of people from believing that their every #random thought and #peurile ejaculation is worthy of announcing to @the world! And leave the good old # and @ to their original uses.

  13. 13
    Eric Riley

    It’s especially amusing to see this the same week that the Pope tries to get twitter users to follow him by offering an indulgence…

  14. 14
    Some Old Programmer

    It may not be bad for many visitors, but from my particular bent (geddit?) I recall seeing some rather gruesome photos of what can happen to gay men there. To be fair, that’s not unique to Saudi Arabia, but that only means it has company on my personal “no way am I going anywhere near that place” list.

  15. 15
    Doug Little

    Did they use twitter to inform the people that using twitter would send them to hell? If so that would create an irony singularity and all irony meters in existence would cease to exist.

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