Over 300 Twitter hashtags targeting the Kingdom and its people have been registered in just one month by the Sakina program combating extremist and terrorist ideology, which is run by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, according to the program’s director.
Speaking to Al-Watan newspaper, Abdul Monem Al-Mashooh said: “The hashtags were made by unknown people who know what they are doing and are following up closely the current events in the region.” He said over 17,000 tweets reacted to these hashtags.
“This number should be taken into consideration and should not be ignored even though it increased suddenly before vanishing. Although these hashtags failed to achieve their goals, they succeeded in stirring a limited number of people, a matter which should be dealt with carefully,” he added.
He regretted the fact that several accounts on Twitter acknowledged and interacted with the hashtags without verifying their sources and real purposes.
“Everyone should realize very well that this is a battle against the Kingdom and it should be fought with great wisdom. Our religion, security, unity and minds are targeted. Reforms and advice are a must but those who wish evil to this country and hate us should not play any role in the process of reform and advice.” Al-Mashooh said the hashtags were made from unknown Twitter accounts that are run by people who want to wreak havoc and chaos in the Kingdom in order to achieve their goals.
“They care about nothing but instigating sedition, exaggerating mistakes, and filling people’s minds with hatred. They have been trained to create an environment conducive to chaos,” he warned.
Al-Mashooh said most Twitter users in the Kingdom realize that such hashtags come from foreign sources.
“Most people refuse such hashtags because they go against the Shariah. People realize what happened to other countries whose people listened to the calls for chaotic revolutions,” he said while emphasizing the importance of countering such hashtags with wisdom.
The Sakina program plays a weak role in countering such extremist ideologies on social networking sites because it does not have enough capabilities, Al-Mashooh pointed out. He called for setting up a center to study such hashtags and other posts on social networking sites.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on August 24, 2013.