Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Anti-Witchcraft Squad Versus Twitter

Saudi Arabia's anti-witchcraft squad, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, is back in the news declaring war on Twitter. The religious police have announced a crackdown on the popular social media site, targeting accounts that "promote sorcery and witchcraft." And as I just added Augoeides to Twitter in January, I suppose that includes bloggers like me, so I won't be visiting Saudi Arabia any time soon. Not that I had any such plans.

Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police authority has decided to launch a war against what it described as vice and sorcery accounts on Twitter inside the conservative Gulf kingdom, saying it aims to destroy all those accounts.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said it had formed special teams to track those accounts and arrest those who are behind them.

Quoted by the Saudi news network Al Arabiya, the Commission’s spokesman Ahmed Al Jardan said its members are watching those accounts which “are spreading vice and witchcraft” through the country’s society.

“We will track down all those who are behind these accounts whether they are men or women…we are determined to eliminate these accounts before they become widespread and out of control,” he said.

Twitter played an important role in organizing the "Arab Spring" revolutions in the Middle East, a bullet that Saudi Arabia has so far managed to dodge. The religious authority's motive here is clearly political, and I imagine that to them "sorcery and witchcraft" will look a lot like political activism. After all, it's pretty unclear how tweets about magical practices could "become widespread and out of control." Political protests, on the other hand, can topple governments if they become large enough. Witchcraft is just a convenient excuse for hunting enemies, as it has been for centuries.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: