By Damien McElroy Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:39AM BST 01 Apr 2008
A young Saudi Arabian woman was murdered by her father for chatting on the social network site Facebook, it has emerged.
The unnamed woman from Riyadh was beaten and shot after she was discovered in the middle of an online conversation with a man, the al-Arabiya website reported.
The case was reported on a Saudi Arabian news site as an example of the “strife” the social networking site is causing in the Islamic nation.
Saudi preacher Ali al-Maliki has emerged as the leading critic of Facebook, claiming the network is corrupting the youth of the nation.
“Facebook is a door to lust and young women and men are spending more on their mobile phones and the Internet than they are spending on food,” he said.
The woman was murdered in August but her death was highlighted following Maliki’s comments.
Social customs and religious rules oblige women in Saudi Arabia to cover their head and figure with a veil so that men are not distracted by the female form.
Critics also allege that Facebook is an avenue for the promotion of homosexual relations in Saudi Arabia. More than 6,500 people have signed the online petition in a bid to stop the conservative Muslim kingdom following Syria in banning access to the network from local internet servers.
There are estimated to be more than 30,000 Facebook users in the oil-rich kingdom. Many Saudi women use nicknames and post comic images or drawings on their pages instead of photographs. Some Saudi bloggers have dubbed the network “Faceless”.
Women users’ contact details and email addresses are often pseudonymous. The popularity of sites for singles has broken taboos on people making contact outside family and class connections.
One of the most popular Facebook groups among Saudi Arabian youth is Single and Looking in Saudi Arabia, which has 1,823 members and hosts many sexually explicit images.
And the world still buys oil from one of the last absolute and corrupt monarchies in the world? Facebook is really becoming like myspace. I hope Mark Zuckerberg and his team are happy.