Don’t expect Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh to give you any retweets or favorites any time soon. The Saudi Grand Mufti cast stones at the popular microblogging site Twitter this week, saying that Twitter is nothing more than “a source of lies.”
Al-Sheikh stopped short of calling for an outright fatwa – or, official opinion as relating to Islamic law – on Twitter, but his announcement did come on the Grand Mufti’s own Fatwa television show. In the Monday night broadcast of Fatwa, al-Sheikh decried Twitter as little more than a disseminator of lies.
“People are rushing to it thinking it’s a source of credible information,” al-Sheikh said, “but it’s a source of lies and falsehood.”
Of course, the Grand Mufti might have a point, as Twitter is often home to spurious rumors and celebrity death hoaxes. It’s probably more a home for ultra-radicalized One Direction fans than any professional falsehood spreaders.
Al-Sheikh’s declaration did leave some room for Twitter to be redeemed, though, if only a little.
“If it were used correctly,” the Grand Mufti said, “it could be of real benefit, but unfortunately it’s exploited for trivial matters.”
According to Al Arabiya, Twitter is quite popular among men and women in the ultra-conservative nation of Saudi Arabia. Arab News earlier this year pointed to the newest edition of the Arab Social Media Report, which found that Saudi Arabia has 2.4 million active Twitter users out of a total Saudi population of about 29 million. That means that nearly one in 10 Saudi Arabians is using Twitter. Saudi Arabia accounts for the largest portion of Twitter users in the Arab world by far, with fully 40 percent of Twitter users in that region living within the Kingdom.
The Grand Mufti has previously issued warnings to Saudi Arabian citizens on the perils of uncontrolled modern technologies. PRI reported in October that al Sheikh warned Saudis away from listening people claiming to be able to interpret dreams over satellite channels or the internet. Al Sheikh called those interpreters frauds, saying they were out to make money off others’ gullibility.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the top Sunni Muslim religious and legal authority in the country. The Grand Mufti serves at the discretion of the King of Saudi Arabia, and heads the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas. Since the office was created by King Abdul Aziz in 1953, three individuals have held the office. Al Sheikh is the only one to have had to deal with the pernicious influence of Twitter.
[Lead image via PRI]