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.