by Lekan Olanrewaju
A new social network targeted at Muslims all around the world is set to launch. Called Salamworld, the Istanbul-based startup hopes to become a staple social network for the Islamic world.
The site is designed to be ‘Halal’ friendly, and thus forbids things such as pornography, criminal activities, fraud, paedophilia and advertisements on gambling and alcohol.
“By filtering out harmful content, and by making the content uphold and respect family values, we confirm to the requirements of Muslims throughout the world,” outlined a promo video for the website. “At Salamworld, our aim is to overcome all political, language and cultural barriers, to open the world to Muslims, and open Muslims to the world.”
The social network aims to garner 50 million users in three years. One of its owners, Siberian Muslim businessman Abdulvahed Nizayov spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News saying that it was simply about creating a safe environment for muslims online, as opposed to being an “internet mosque”.
“Muslims in the world are not well-represented on the Internet; we want to change this situation,” he said. “However, we’re not constructing an Internet mosque, we are just creating a halal environment for Muslims.”
Abdulvahed’s group teamed up with a number of prominent Islamic leaders to develop the site. One of such is Malaysian Jumaatun Azmi, the founder-director of the World Halal Forum and the face behind KasehDia.
“I am helping them fine tune it,” she said. “The main thing I want to push on the agenda is to make it universal, for Muslims and non-Muslims.”
She spoke about not wanting extremists to be heard as “the voice” of muslims all around the world saying: “Salam means peace in Islam and Salamworld is about just that – creating a safe, peaceful world that is free from haram (things that are forbidden in Islam) for everyone.
“And the thing that we’re concerned about is that (so far) only the extremists are being heard as the voice of Islam,” she continued. “They are louder than the silent, peaceful majority that makes up the Islamic world.”
She also spoke about criticism that may arise due to the censorship on the site saying total freedom does not exist in Islam. “Salamworld, while being free of all that is haram, is geared towards providing the moderate and peaceful majority a platform for safe interaction and discourse.” she said. “This would mean that there will be a lot of censorship involved. I know there will be a lot of criticisms coming in because the Internet stands for freedom and free. In Islam, there is no such thing as total freedom.
“There are etiquettes and mannerisms and adab of public and private life as ordained by God.” she added.
The website is being funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars by a group of Russian and Turkish investors.