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Arabs and Atheism: Religious Discussions in the Arab Twittersphere

  • Youssef Al HaririEmail author
  • Walid Magdy
  • Maria Wolters
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11864)

Abstract

Most previous research on online discussions of atheism has focused on atheism within a Christian context. In contrast, discussions about atheism in the Arab world and from Islamic background are relatively poorly studied. An added complication is that open atheism is against the law in some Arab countries, which may further restrict atheist activity on social media. In this work, we explore atheistic discussion in the Arab Twittersphere. We identify four relevant categories of Twitter users according to the content they post: atheistic, theistic, tanweeri (religious renewal), and other. We characterise the typical content posted by these four sets of users and their social networks, paying particular attention to the topics discussed and the interaction among them. Our findings have implication for the study of religious and spiritual discourse on social media and provide a better cross-cultural understanding of relevant aspects.

Keywords

Atheism Arabic Religion Islam Twitter 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Bridges Foundation for their support by providing the initial seeding list of accounts that we later reviewed and filtered. In addition, we are highly thankful for Dr. Jacob Copeman, an expert anthropologist in Atheism and non-religion, for his valuable feedback and suggestions for our study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Youssef Al Hariri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walid Magdy
    • 1
  • Maria Wolters
    • 1
  1. 1.School of InformaticsThe University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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