Arab Religious Skeptics Online: Anonymity, Autonomy, and Discourse in a Hostile Environment

30 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015

See all articles by Helmi Noman

Helmi Noman

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: February 4, 2015

Abstract

The Arab atheist community is largely an online phenomenon, with limited visibility offline and with virtually no umbrella groups. It exists in unfriendly, if not hostile, political, social, religious, and legal environments. This paper aims to deepen our understanding of virtual space by analyzing the Arab atheist community online: its content, discourse, and structure. The research examines the relationship between the networked information economy and the emergence of religious skeptics as manifested in Arab cyberspace. A central question is whether the Internet enhances individual autonomy in matters of faith. Given that the Arab atheist community online is prevailingly anonymous, the paper assesses the potential and limitations of anonymous and pseudonymous speech online and the extent to which this facilitates or hinders sharing, debating, community building, and collective action.

Suggested Citation

Noman, Helmi, Arab Religious Skeptics Online: Anonymity, Autonomy, and Discourse in a Hostile Environment (February 4, 2015). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2015-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2560491 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2560491

Helmi Noman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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