By Elena Zanone

Last week BBC news reported that the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh has warned its citizens against using Twitter, a platform that has been gaining in popularity among Saudis over the past few years.

The religious boss believes that anyone using social media sites, especially Twitter, “has lost this world and his afterlife.”

As BBC elaborates,  Abdul Aziz al ash-Shaikh’s comments are just the latest in a collaborative effort from the kingdom’s disgruntled officials in attacking the U.S.-based 140-character microblogging site because its difficulty in tracking users and what is being said on the platform.

His remarks reflect overarching concerns from the capital over Saudis using the platform to discuss sensitive political and other issues.

“The sheikh’s comments echo those of the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in April who used his sermon – seen by millions on TV – to warn that Twitter was a threat to national unity.” stated a BBC news correspondent.

Unlike some other social sites like Facebook, Twitter allows people to maintain multiple accounts and maintain them anonymously. That protection has allowed Saudis to use the real-time network as an immediate and effective platform to shed light into a traditionally opaque society.

In fact, protests in the Eastern Province were recently tweeted and images of human rights activists on trial were uploaded directly from courtrooms, challenging many taboos in the country.

The authorities are taking action and a number of web activists have already been detained. However, some elements of the Saudi elite have also warned against moving too harshly on social network users.

Billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a self-proclaimed reformist, has described attempts to restrict social media as a losing battle.

Souce: BBC News