Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police, has gone public with a renewed attack on the use of social media sites, particularly Twitter. He warned citizens that the use of sites like Twitter guarantees that the user “has lost this world and his afterlife.”
Social media sites are a growing rage for Saudi citizens and a headache for the government. Like other repressive governments, the Kingdom sees these sites as threats in allowing free speech and association.
The imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in April has also denounced the use of Twitter as anti-Islamic and a threat to national unity. He declared Muslims on Twitter to be “fools.” It appears less foolish to denounce a social media site as an offense to God.
The Kingdom is particularly concerned with how Twitter has been used to keep people informed of human rights activists who have been tried for the crime of free speech. Leaders on the Web have been detained while others have been charged with apostasy and other crimes for statements made on these sites.
The more that repressive government seek to ban Twitter the more they remind us of the value of this resource as a force for freedom around the world.