RIYADH and ROME: Grand Mufti and the Pope Together on Social Media

These days, Islam and the Catholic Church appear to agree on at least one thing: religious assertions on Social Media outlets should be treated with considerable skepticism—and indeed may be the source of serious religious error.

For example, in his recent sermon in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh told his Muslim followers not to take Twitter as the source of knowledge without proper investigation into who is behind the comments. Twitter has recently been used as a vehicle to proclaim fatwas (religious edicts) and to also spread lies attacking reputations. The Grand Mufti’s warning is to be commended and (we hope) widely heeded.

On the other side of the world, Pope Benedict XVI shared a similar massage as Saudi’s Grand Mufti. In his speech at the 46th World Day of Social Communications he praised the significance of digital communication but pointed out the astonishing amount of stimuli and data available on the Internet. With commendable understatement, the Pope suggested that perhaps the practice of silence would help us all in the “exercise of proper discernment.”

Quietly, we applaud.

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