- Posted January 19, 2011 by
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from Second Life
SL Muslims Confront Al Qaeda Taliban Group
Guardians of Islam's Holiest Site in SL Reject the Al-Qaeda-Taliban of Second Life
A struggle for the heart and soul of Islam has been going on at a muslim-operated site in Second Life, and it illustrates the tension between moderate sentiment and extreme ideology within the Islamic faith.
Ferancesco Thibediue, a Second Life citizen, sat in protest of his group's banishment from the OnIslam Virtual Hajj site. Throughout he played lectures of Anwar Al-Awlaki, who is known as a radical voice in Islam. The protest occurred around 9:30 a.m. SLT on Jan. 19 (9:30 a.m. PST). As Onislam's security watched him closely and waited for the Sim's manager to ban him.
Security had good reason to be watchful. You see Thibediue was prominently displaying a tag above his name to show his affiliation with the Second Life group "(Al-Qaeda-Taliban) the right path1."
The managment at Onislam has told visitors that the Al- Qaeda-Taliban group in Second Life has been harrassing them. Members of the extremist group have been banned only to create new avatars and come back, again and again.
They were familiar with Thibediue because he had already been banned 7 times from the land, according to the "Banned Residents" list in "About Land." Today's appearance was Thibediue's 8th visit. He keeps changing his name slightly to recreate a new avatar to bypass the bans.
Now their very presence is disruptive.
Anybody in Second Life can create a group and so there is no way to know if owners or members are part of Al Qaeda or Taliban, people who hold that group in esteem, or just plain malicious troublemakers.
As other members arrived, they knew exactly what was going on.
Razi Khan, a frequent visitor to the Onislam sim, began to play the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam over voice to show his allegiance with Onislam.
"Just like real life, we have extremists in Second Life. We as Muslims need to address this in a positive and lasting way. Our speech would not make any difference to them," he said referring to the unwanted visitor. "So, today, I have decided to play the speech of Allah Most High. If they fear Allah Most High and the Shariah that came to us, they would heed to this."
Then Iam Zeurra said, "[10:03] Ok this unwanted person is now reported and [Linden Labs] can track the number of his hard disk."
Zeurra referred to a process that Linden Labs has set up so that members in SL may report people who cause trouble, known in the community as "griefers," or those who violate terms of service.
But Thibediue continued his protest.
A sign prominently posted at the location in SecondLife says:
"Onislam Island Management announced that Al-Qaeda-Taliban group and its members are not welcome at our islands.
Untrusted Group: "Al-Qaeda-Taliban, the right path 1" founded by Muslim Fadlan."
Around 11:00 a.m. SLT, a person who calls himself Muslim Fadlan, creator of the Al-Qaeda-Taliban group, arrived in Onislam.
In a statement to this reporter, Fadlan said, "[11:02] This land and the owners and the managers, from my point of view, don't understand Islam the true way."
".. some muslim people who think they understand Islam , and they really don't understand many things about Islam."
Fadlan, at least in word, said his struggle with Onislam was about faith.
We had the following conversation:
[11:22] Muslim Fadlan: If you are really interested to understand Islam as Allah sent it to Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, you need to read well, otherwise you will be lost.
[11:22] NadiaLane: How will I be lost?
[11:23] Muslim Fadlan: Because most people in the world are against the true Islam.
[11:32] Muslim Fadlan: America is going down now.
[11:32] NadiaLane: I need to ask you this: Are you with the real Al Qaeda?
[11:32] Muslim Fadlan: Ten years ago [America] use to be very proud and they use to say that they are the only country on this world who can go into more than one war at the same time.
[11:33] NadiaLane: Sir, please ... Are you in contact with them in real life? I'm asking as a reporter.
[11:34] Muslim Fadlan: I am a muslim man, and I support my muslim brothers. And in real life, I am not one of them, but I do love them and defend them with my life.
By 11:49 a.m SLT, they both had left.
About 10 minutes later the manager of Onislam Virtual Hajj, Emotions Magic arrived to ban the two from the site and uphold the Sim's policy against the Al-Qaeda-Taliban.
She later had this to say:
[12:53] Emotions Magic: Onislam Island Management announced that the Al-Qaeda-Taliban group and its members are not welcome on our islands. Because they keep on not respecting the island rules and they spread Satanic ways of thinking. After putting out warning signs about them, they launched attacks against the island and kept creating avatars to come over and over again to stop our activities.
She wanted to make one point very clearly, “Onislam Island is open for everybody and people of all religions all over the world.”
The prominent signs with Fadlan's name, like the one in front of the Virtual Airport on the sim, first appeared around the New Year. Besides the one posted at the entrance, 5 other signs are prominently displayed on the way to the Kaaba, which is a replica of the holiest site in Islam in Mecca.
That's why this struggle between the moderates and the extremists is so important. It is a struggle for the very heart and soul of Islam and for tolerance.
Even in a virtual world like Second Life, symbolism can mean everything and is taken seriously.
Today something larger happened than just a griefer appearing a simulated world: The voice of moderate Islam made clear that they had rejected the extremists.
Previously, Any1Gynoid, another Second Life citizen who also writes for CNN i-Report, wrote about the Onislam Virtual Hajj:
The location in Second Life:
[Revision Note: I later learned from security that the "original" Thibediue was a frequent visitor to Onislam, and the Al-Qaeda-Taliban group has been basing the creation of fake avatars on known visitors to Onislam and these visitors are innocent and being victimized.]