Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the major players operating on Al‐Saha Al‐Siyasia online community, which is by far the most widely spread political online community in Saudi Arabia receiving 20 million page views per month. Design/methodology/approach – In addition to using “focused” silent observation to observe Al‐Saha Al‐Siyasia over a period of three months (May‐July 2007) and thematic content analysis to examine 2,000 topics (and their replies) posted to Al‐Saha Al‐Siyasia during the period of May‐June 2007, semi‐structured interviews were conducted (in Arabic) with 15 key informants to report their perceptions regarding Islamic fundamentalists, extremists and liberals, etc. on their forum. Findings – The results of this study indicate that there are three main players operating in Al‐Saha Al‐Siyasia : Islamic fundamentalists, extremists, and liberals. Islamic fundamentalists who are the vast majority on this community use the forum as a medium to promote their image and defend their way of practising the religion. Extremists on the other hand, although their numbers in the forum are very small, use the forum as a medium to establish their credibility and the grounds for their actions. Finally, the liberals use the forum to communicate with the public, and advocate their plans for social reform, invite people to adopt a less strict version of Islam and adopt secularism as a way of life. Originality/value – This paper continues the first comprehensive descriptive study of the size and influence of the Islamic fundamentalists, extremists, and liberals in their activities as online communities.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 27, 2008
Keywords: Internet; Saudi Arabia; Politics; Islam; Religious fundamentalism; Censorship