By: MICHAEL STONE (Examiner)
According to a BBC News report issued Thursday, May 16, Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife.”
The official’s remarks reflects the frustration of religious authorities in Saudi Arabia concerning the fact that a rapidly growing number of Saudis are using Twitter to discuss sensitive religious and political issues.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley comments:
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.
The BBC reports that recent protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have been tweeted, images of human rights activists on trial have been uploaded directly from courtrooms, and a number of web activists have been detained, including at least one for alleged apostasy, a charge that could carry the death penalty.
What do you think about the claim made by the head of the Saudi religious police? Does using Twitter or other social media sites lead one to eternal damnation? Is making such a claim an effective political strategy to stifle dissent? Leave a comment – express yourself.