September 22nd, 2009
01:05 PM ET

Social networks: A niche for the voiceless

Octavia Nasr | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs

A Muslim call to prayer can now be accessed any time and anywhere thanks to social media networks such as Facebook and You Tube.

Across the world, Muslims are creating online communities to discuss and promote their religion. At the same time, this open discussion is exposing and highlighting issues and concerns considered taboo within Islam and the cultures in which they live.

Syrian blogger Ammar Abdel Hamid sees Facebook as a niche for the otherwise voiceless. “The internet came and gave an opportunity for activists for new voices for young people, for democracy promoters, for human rights activists' he says.

In the Arab world, gays and lesbians are taking to the internet to mingle with like-minded people and promote tolerance and understanding. This is especially significant because in their culture they are mainly rejected and still referred to in derogatory terms.

In Jordan, the first lady, Queen Rania al-Abdullah, is promoting the use of social media for opening dialogue and building bridges.

In Saudi Arabia and Egypt, bloggers face tough censorship and even jail for expressing views ranging from social equality to political reform.

Syrians are starting to find ways around heavy censorship and joining some conversations on Facebook.

For now, however, those Syrian conversations revolve around how much they like their first lady and their President Bashar al-Assad.

It is only a matter of time before Syrians will join their Arab and Muslim counterparts and bring to the table the more serious issues on their minds.

Follow Octavia on Twitter @OctaviaNasrCNN

Filed under: 360° Radar • Arab Affairs • Octavia Nasr • Technology
soundoff (One Response)
  1. max daves

    To be a balanced story you need to also bring up how the sam thing happens to followers of Jesus and jews also. Do not forget how social networks also gave the people in Iran support during the recent electimm protests.

    September 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm |