Grand Mufti calls for dialogue about the internet

( – Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and one of the world’s most respected Islamic jurists, has called for greater dialogue and tolerance over the growing challenges created by the explosive growth of social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

He spoke out after calls for the execution of a young Saudi journalist over remarks he made about the Prophet Mohammed on Twitter, with Sheikh Ali saying: “We don’t kill our sons, we talk to them.”

In a wide-ranging interview about how the Muslim world should help young people to confront both the dangers and benefits of the internet, the Grand Mufti called for caution and understanding, but rejected calls for a ban on social networking. Sheikh Ali made his views clear just days after the journalist, Hamza Kashgari, 23, was deported back to Saudi Arabia, where he faces charges of blasphemy and a potential death sentence.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Sheikh Ali took a softer stance on the Saudi writer, who posted a series of tweets in which he imagined a dialogue with the Prophet on his birthday last month, and for which he has been widely condemned in some quarters of the Muslim world.

The Grand Mufti, seen by many as a revivalist voice in the faith, said that given the opportunity, he would sit down with the young man “as a father would with his son”.

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