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SAUDI ARABIA: 'Pure' Islamic alternative to YouTube launched

In a move to preserve religious and moral values in cyberspace, a group of unidentified Saudis have launched a "clean" Islamic alternative to the leading video-sharing site YouTube. 

It's called NaqaTube.

Naqa means "pure" in Arabic. The website offers a collection of edited and Islamically "clean" clips from YouTube under the banner, “Participate with us in a clean website."

Site administrators censor video clips that express critical views of the government, Islamic scholars and members of the Saudi royal family. 

In keeping with Saudi Arabia's strict religious and moral codes, music videos and clips featuring women are also banned. Any music videos on NaqaTube must adhere to Islamic rules.  

Saudi-naqatubeAbu Ibraheem, the handle of a NaqaTube moderator, assured in an interview with the Saudi English-language daily Arab News that all footage on NaqaTube is "religiously safe." 

The clips, he said, are often edited before being posted. Visitors also can use its online tool to edit their own footage before uploading it to the site. 

Abu Ibraheem told the paper that he hopes NaqaTube will some day rival YouTube, perhaps by decreasing the number of visitors to YouTube. 

But for now NaqaTube will have to wait. It has attracted only 5,000 to 6,000 visitors since its launch this summer, Abu Ibraheem said.

Plans are in the pipeline to launch NaqaTube in languages other than Arabic.

The vast majority of clips on NaqaTube have religious themes. Visitors are offered a spectrum of more than 10 channels, including a science-themed one and a site featuring children's cartoon clips.

Viewers are also offered countless clips of religious scholars giving lectures and debating Islamic rules on talk shows. 

Abu Ibraheem stressed that NaqaTube is promoting "moderate" Islamic teachings and "nothing extreme."

NaqaTube isn't the first religious counterpart of YouTube. Other examples include JewTube, Islamicube, and GodTube (now called, which describes itself as using "technology to connect Christians for the purpose of encouraging and advancing the Gospel worldwide."

NaqaTube comes as Saudi Arabia tries to censor Internet content deemed harmful to its values.

The initiative, titled Saudi Flagger, includes 200 volunteers who search YouTube for inappropriate content. 

Once a racy clip is found, a member of the campaign flags it. Users are then encouraged to complain to YouTube administrators that the video contains “hateful or abusive content” that “promotes hatred or violence” against religious groups, according to the campaign's website.

In a recent post, the popular Saudi blogger Saudijeans posed the question of whether initiatives like NaqaTube can survive.

"Although I never thought that building Arabic/Islamic alternatives to popular Internet services is exactly a good idea, I find myself today not minding it very much. More choices to the people is not a bad thing, I guess. But I still wonder about the prospects of these projects. ... Is this a sustainable business model? Can these alternatives survive the competition by focusing on such specific niches?" Saudijeans wrote

In response to the post, commentator Saleema aired support for the launch of NaqaTube.

"There is nothing wrong in having NaqaTube. What’s wrong if some decent guy is trying to make a website where indecent ... videos are not available? If people like YouTube, they can still go and visit it and others who don’t have a better option. If nobody criticizes YouTube for showing whatever they like, why criticize Naqatube?" she wrote.

Commentator Norvegica on the other hand said the project is simply a waste of time and money.

"It’s only there so that unhip people can feel better about their inability to deal with videos like adults," read the comment.

Saudi Arabia is one of the leading Internet censors in the Middle East, blocking material such as pornography, gambling and politics. 

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Video: A Koranic reading with English subtitles. Credit: NaqaTube. Photo: A detail from the NaqaTube website.

Comments () | Archives (12)

every person is free in his beliefs and he have the right to join to any group .
as west always say that they with people rights , women rights, children rights, exoression rights, etc.
as reply to the last comment: the prophet Mohammed didnt tell muslims to kill anyone , he alowed them to kill fighters only , and there is many hadiths that explains this .
this sight may be useful:

This new website is against my morals and beliefs. If a terrorist joins, there is no limit to the amount of harm they could do, impressioning young minds with sick and twisted un-ethical mindsets. If Islam is such a peaceful religion, why does Mohammed tell his disciples to kill the infidels in the Hadith? And how can the Son of the one true God be reduced to a prophet of a cruel, heartless deity? Islam goes completely against what Jesus was telling everyone.

Im a member of saudi flgger although am not saudian but the aim is to do good rule in our life and try to make something better.
im an arabic muslim girle and i feel that i live a good life with no ristrictions as you think , may be bettr than you lives and with more plessure.

That is very interesting to me.

I'm a member of this group, belive me we don't encourage anyone to hatery and racism in any shape.

We care about our country ((:
Long life saudi arabia.

Wow,, it is a great news and that is what we need to show the bright,truth image of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia . Realy, I am so proud for being Saudi .

I am a member of Jew website that encourages us to flag Islamic videos and reupload racy videos about saudi ppl on youtube? why u guys dont write about them?

It is also worth to wonder what makes an estimated of 20000 Americans covert to Islam every year. Those are American who experianced what it means to a non-Muslim and choose Islam.

Please think

There might be somehing there that you do not know

thank Allah! I was not born any where near Saudi Arabia! To be female under Islamic law, is punishment you would be born. into. Not being allowed to be seen or heard in music videos is just another way of stopping women from expressing themselves. It seems that all that repression, would be extremely unhealthy for both sexes.

Nice write-up. I wonder where the 5,000 or 6,000 visitors are coming from? Just Saudi Arabia? And why no women? Even covered women? I hope this is one of the issues debated among the moderate scholars.

Also, are comments allowed? And if so, are they also heavily moderated? One of the worst parts of YouTube are the racist and inane comments (like Ruckweiler's). Not that I advocate for censorship. I just wish more people would use the thumbs down.

Will their programming include how to properly conduct an "honor" killing, behead an infidel, or prepare your children for martydom? By Islamic standards, these wouldn't be objectionable.

Naqa means "camel" in Arabic. Naqiy means pure.


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