Social Media and the Rise of Atheism
For many around the world, the mention of the Middle East does not evoke the idea of thousands of young men and women touting atheism via social media. Yet this is exactly what is happening in the Arab world as young people dissatisfied with religious institutions find a refuge in social media.
The Gulf states and Egypt in particular witness a marked rise in the number of young people abandoning their religion. Some attribute this to a disillusionment with religion following the rise of ISIS and the broadcasting of its atrocities, which it of course proclaims to be in the name of religion. This explanation falls short however upon examining the spread of atheism in the aforementioned countries; the young people spearheading the movement, such as the Egyptian Mohammad Harqan give complex accounts of their journey to atheism.
The young men and women at the forefront of the rise of atheism in the Arab world seem to be driven by a genuine rejection of religion in all form and a desire for secular states and societies. Evolution is often offered as a trigger that instigated a later rejection of religion- this is especially true when considering the fact that thousands of young Saudis are sent abroad by the government to pursue their studies. It is inevitable that they will encounter the theory the evolution during the course of their studies in the West.
Social media has provided a platform for atheists in the Middle East to circumvent authorities and spread their thoughts through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The YouTube channel The Black Ducks was started by young Arab atheists in order to:
“The Black Ducks is a talk show on YouTube that interviews atheists and non-religious individuals from the Arab world. Inspired by Ismail Mohamed ( Egyptian atheist ), to achieve a secular society in the Middle East and North Africa. Another goal is to offer solace and courage to those who are atheists in secret so they may know they are not alone in the world.”
The future does not bode well for dictators and hardliners in the Middle East. Social media has rendered them powerless in facing the spread of human thought and ideas.