International

Twitter Users Risk Damnation, Saudi Religious Police Say

In January, this Saudi man in Riyadh had Twitter open on his computer. i i

In January, this Saudi man in Riyadh had Twitter open on his computer. Fayez Nureldine /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Fayez Nureldine /AFP/Getty Images
In January, this Saudi man in Riyadh had Twitter open on his computer.

In January, this Saudi man in Riyadh had Twitter open on his computer.

Fayez Nureldine /AFP/Getty Images

"The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis," the BBC reports. "Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites — and especially Twitter — 'has lost this world and his afterlife.' "

International Digital Times notes that:

"The news rather reminds us of the imam of the Grand Mosque who last April used his sermon — seen by millions on TV — to label Twitter as a threat to national unity. The kingdom's grand mufti (religious head) earlier at several occasions attacked the Twitter users calling them 'fools' and 'clowns.'

"Indeed, the remarks of these leaders tend to clearly reflect Riyadh's concern that its people could be using the social networks to discuss sensitive and officially forbidden political, religious and other issues."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley adds that:

"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."

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