Twitter 'source of all evil' says Saudi Arabia cleric

By Felicity Morse
Newsbeat social media producer

  • Published
Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-SheikhImage source, Getty Images

Twitter users often complain the site is addictive and time-consuming.

But according to Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric, Twitter is "the source of all evil and devastation".

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, made the comments on his Fatwa television show earlier this week.

"If it were used correctly, it could be of real benefit, but unfortunately it's exploited for trivial matters," he said about the social networking site.

"People are rushing to it thinking, 'It's a source of credible information' but it's a source of lies and falsehood."

As the highest religious authority in the country Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh holds a senior government position, advising on the law and social affairs.

He was also voted the 12th most influential Muslim in the world in a recent poll.

He said users were using Twitter to "promote lies, backbite and gossip and to slander Islam".

Image source, Getty Images

According to Gulf News, he said: "These are not the high morals that Muslims should have and I call upon all people to contemplate seriously what they write before they post their tweets."

However, citizens of Saudi Arabia, who are some of the heaviest users of Twitter, did not appreciate his remarks.

"This is why I will repent, and close my account to distance myself from this great evil," one Twitter user wrote with apparent sarcasm.

"Respected sheikh, how can you judge something without using it?" another post asked.

One of the reasons Saudis say they like using Twitter is because it allows them to discuss what they really feel.

The hashtag #WhydidTwittersucceedinSaudiArabia began trending in January, with users sharing their reasons they liked the site.

One user tweeted: "People need an outlet to express themselves, to start to disclose what's hidden and drop the masks, without fear or commands, or censorship from anyone."

Another posted: "The reason is that none of the newspapers are concerned with your worries nor do any officials care about you."

Saudi Arabia adopts a strict version of Sunni Islam, which is the largest branch of the religion. The other main group are the Shia.

The split into two happened more than 1,000 years ago when a dispute began over who should lead the Muslim community.

Strict Sunnis believe in segregation of the sexes and this influences all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter and Radio1Newsbeat on YouTube