Douglas McLeod on Al Queda and the Digital Cultural Divide (Guest Entry)

The Internet in the Islamic World:
No Panacea for Democracy

Douglas McLeod

It doesn’t take an expert to realize that the Internet has revolutionized cultural and political life. Virtually anywhere in the world, one can observe Internet-related social change that touches the lives of vast populations. In many societies, even people who don’t own a computer can access the Internet in low cost, public cybercafés. As such, people around the world have become connected like never before. While the utopians among us have recognized the great promise that this interconnectivity presents in terms of access to information, expanded horizons, civic participation and the calling of democracy, there is a dark side to the Internet as well. Setting aside obvious Internet-associated perils such as pornography, scams and other forms of depravity, there are numerous other issues that bring cause for concern. Such dangers are particularly acute in the Islamic world.

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