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Censorship Facebook Social Networks Your Rights Online

Saudi Arabia Bans Facebook 227

gandhi_2 sends in a brief Associated Press piece on Saudi Arabia's blocking of Facebook. "An official with Saudi Arabia's communications authority says it has blocked Facebook because the popular social networking website doesn't conform with the kingdom's conservative values. ... He says Facebook's content had 'crossed a line' with the kingdom's conservative morals, but that blocking the site is a temporary measure." Some reports indicate that at least some individual Facebook pages can be reached from inside the kingdom. There hasn't been an official announcement; the source noted above requested anonymity. Earlier this year when Pakistan and Bangladesh banned Facebook, it was over particular content — cartoons of Mohammed — and the Saudi ban may prove similar once more details emerge.
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Saudi Arabia Bans Facebook

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  • temporary measure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @01:41PM (#34216220) Homepage Journal

    Ya, until they can either blackmail or threaten FB into compliance.

  • Re:temporary measure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @02:02PM (#34216362) Homepage

    Threaten them with what, loss of a miniscule market?

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @03:01PM (#34216764) Journal
    If there can be so few "True Atheists", then it seems most people want a "Religion". Whether it one of the popular religions, or worship of the Great Communist Leader, or "Gaia", or "The Best Team in the world, and I'm willing to bash anyone who says otherwise", they just have a need to be part of a Greater Thing.

    Arguably atheism was the initial state (unless you believe the ancestors of humans and primates had religion too which would be interesting ;) ), and then religion emerged and more importantly _outcompeted_ atheism.

    So as long as humans remain humans, plain atheism doesn't look like it would become a large majority. The "substrate" and environment has to change significantly. But I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

    Even if God etc doesn't exist, as long as the placebo effect exists (and remains significant), certain types of religions will outcompete atheism over the long run. Because strict atheism will pose no net benefits[1], whereas certain religions would produce benefits via the placebo effect. So as long as the net benefits outweigh the costs of a religion, adherents as a whole would benefit more from that religion than from atheism.

    Some religions have/had very high costs of course, but not all. Plus the costs and benefits have to be taken across the group as a whole, because some religions while costing a few individuals a lot (their entire lives in fact), would benefit the group more overall.

    [1] I believe most atheists would say atheism is a result not a cause, producing benefits is not applicable - it's just what happens when you hold a certain world view.
  • by deepsky ( 11076 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @03:11PM (#34216832) Homepage

    Today I've discovered that The Pirate Bay website is blocked in Italy. Previously the italian providers were forced to configure the DNS to resolve it as, but that was easy to circumvent. Now, the IP is totally unreacheable from Italy. To look at TPB one has to use a proxy, a tunnel, etc.

    A similar measure is in force for unauthorized gambling sites.

    I don't gamble and I don't care too much for torrents, but the very idea that my government decides which sites I can visit and which I cannot sends a cold shiver down my spine.

  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @04:01PM (#34217064)

    First off, a little disclaimer:

    Westerners often tend to conflate Wahhabism with Islam, but that is a critical mistake that undermines any clear understanding of the Middle East and Islam itself. The movement has taken Islam from being an unquestioned powerhouse of intellectual and cultural innovation to being perceived as a force of stagnation. Islam is not the problem, the cultural baggage that it is presently burdened with is the issue. Wahhabism itself is only a few centuries old, and in that time it has deeply undermined the perception of Islam in the Western world, and undermined the social, intellectual and economic development of those countries where it has taken root.

    It's why women went from being the closest advisors to the Prophet himself, to being deeply despised and treated as subhuman in certain corners of the Islamic world. The najib, the bourqua, the many, many restrictions on women - these came from outside of Islam, and were integrated into the narrative of what Islam is about. Many in the West fail to understand that Wahhabism and the myriad of ancient tribal customs that were given an opportunity for resurgence are not found in the Qu'ran.

    One can find the seeds of Wahhabism. The passages and the bits of text that would inspire such an interpretation, but to say it is a legitimate part of Islam would be false. (Wahhabists would strongly disagree. ;) )

    But Wahhabism is a factor that must be dealt with regardless of how legitimate it is. So here we find ourselves looking at its biggest proponent - and it's largest victim - Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia has siphoned its oil wealth off to fund the lifestyle of countless princes vaguely related to the royal family, while the rest of the young-skewing country faces unemployment and poverty.

    The ruling class has tried to embrace the radical Wahhabist interpretation of Islam and use it as a uniting force in the country, while accumulating for itself the material pleasures of modernity purchased with the natural resources of the nation. It hasn't really worked. It's resulted in the aforementioned elites living the high life, while the impoverished masses watch the encroachment of western culture they are taught to despise.

    It's a nation ruled by oppression and undermined with a deep-seated cognitive dissonance regarding technology, culture, religion and how it all interacts on a moral and practical level.

    It's a climate that is intellectually bankrupt, as it crushes new ideas while longing for the modernity it simultaneously craves / despises. It wants to mesh 16th century mores with 21st century technology. So far it has operated under the illusion that such things are possible, as the country has simply purchased what it desires from the West. But it doesn't develop much of anything on its own. The culture of Wahhabism silences innovation. It creates an environment where fear, oppression, absolutely pathological misogyny are entrenched in the social and legal fabric of the nation.

    Saudi Arabia has tried to improve its position by having students study overseas, but they quickly become deeply alienated from the world that stands so far apart from the one they come from. Ideally, the men (and they are almost always men) would return with new ideas and new perspectives. But they so often end up bitter radicals. They see how their nation is widely perceived as a backwards ocean of sand that is valued for its oil and little else. Furthermore, the Western world they encounter is full of temptations they have been groomed to hate, but the promise of economic prosperity they cannot hope to find at home.

    The home they return to is a stifling environment of institutionalized corruption (the name Saudi Arabia literally means "Arabia that belongs to the House of Saud"), intellectual stagnation where new ideas are deeply frowned upon, and constant reminders of the morally corrupt world they've left behind.

    What hope is there for a country like that?

    Even if they didn't come back a

  • by Bobakitoo ( 1814374 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @04:25PM (#34217192)

    Because strict atheism will pose no net benefits[1], whereas certain religions would produce benefits via the placebo effect. So as long as the net benefits outweigh the costs of a religion, adherents as a whole would benefit more from that religion than from atheism.

    I think rational decision making is a huge benifit to society. Making decision base on faith is actualy a liability. The only "adventage" of faith base decision is a selfish one; fuck up are due to the will of God and so you canot be blamed for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @04:36PM (#34217236)

    ...but the fact is right now Wahhabism and Islam are basically one. You can paint a nice picture of theory of how they are separate ideals, but the REALITY is that Islam and Wahhabism are for all practical purposes, the same thing. It's one thing to proclaim what the printed description says. That's the problem when you live in an ivory tower. You don't see reality.

    Here's the bottom line. A criminal Muslim has more weight than the most pious infidel, in their mindset. If you cannot see that, you are more blind than a bat.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @04:53PM (#34217312)
    Censorship might not be as bad as a crazy religion allowing something and then using it to spy on and persecute people. Would you want someone you care about to be surfing around on Facebook while in Saudi Arabia? When a country gets that screwed up they probably figure they might as well just start censoring everything that might prick on a religious sensibility, just for public safety's sake. We take similar measures ourselves when we drape chain link fencing across cliff faces on roadsides in our own attempts to keep stones from raining down on people.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:00PM (#34217340) Homepage

    Suggesting Islam was progressive and open to different opinions before the rise of Wahhabism is dishonest. Even during Islam's golden age, the main schools of Islamic jurisprudence ascribed fewer rights to non-Muslims. Pushing Christians and Jews down into second-class citizens happened in the generations following Muhammad; it wasn't something done much later by decadent rulers that fell from some higher ideal.

    One perhaps cannot blame Islam as a whole -- you still have way out there sects like the Ismailis who call themselves Muslims even as they reject most of the teachings generally considered to form Islam -- but one can certainly blame 90-something percent of it, and thus for the sake of economy of words, it's reasonable to speak of how Islam itself is the problem.

  • Re:yep... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:10PM (#34217406)

    Fuck Allah, Fuck Mohammad. Fuck Islam!!!!!

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:54PM (#34217630) Homepage

    I've travelled extensively in Morocco and Turkey (just returned from another journey through the former a week ago) and have got into innumerable discussions with the locals about religion. It is true that those countries are not Wahhabi. However, people who feel that Islam is a key part of their identity and who strive to practice it in their lives do agree with many of the problematic aspects of fundamentalist Islam. They do not believe that other religions or no religion at all should be permitted, and they want the state to silence opponents of Islam.

    Turkey especially is tilting towards a situation like in Egypt where a secular state is hanging on to life even as the population goes towards a Muslim Brotherhood-like ideology. My secular friends, representative the ever-decreasing portion of the population who think that Atatürk's attempts to diminish Islam's power were a good thing, are now looking to emigrate so they aren't here when the revolution goes down.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @10:34PM (#34219388) Journal

    GP has a point though. Christianity was historically repressive, but it was changed from within. The serious problem with Salafi (Wahhabi) is that it is a movement that is, fundamentally, against any and all change - the ultimate dogmaticists willing to fix everything in stone and keep it that way for eternity. Where they are popular, there is absolutely no hope for Islam to evolve into something more tolerable.

    Christianity has similar movements in it, but, gladly, they were never been able to catch up with the humanist revolution, and the more liberal Christian denominations were pretty much forced to accept it and play along. But there's no similar force in Islamic world today, and Salafism is going strong, spreading like a cancer.

  • by at.drinian ( 1180281 ) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @12:44AM (#34219950) Homepage
    The ironic thing is, I spent three weeks in Tunisia earlier this year, and I encountered Tunisian guys offering to Bluetooth amateur porn from their mobile phone to mine. Sneakernet always wins.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:05AM (#34221304)

    The problem with Islam these days is the insistence of some to distinguish between a "fundamentalist" version of it, and a more "tolerant" one.

    Rest assured that in the case of Morocco, the "tolerant" Islam is a myth. There is no freedom of worship, no gender equality (at least, not when it comes to inheritance laws), no freedom of expression, etc. While the world is focused on Iran and Afghanistan, there's a tendency to overlook the severe civil liberties violations taking place in light-theocracies such as Morocco. A Moroccan who isn't lucky enough to be born among the dwindling 3,000-strong Jewish community can be jailed for eating a sandwich or sipping from a water bottle in Ramadan.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.