[P6553] Non-Religion and the Media in Muslim communities
Created by Natalie Khazaal
Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm
SUMMARY:Convenient access to information has largely contributed to an increase in the proliferation and visibility of discourses on non-religion in Muslim communities. Previously mainly confined to private spaces under pressure from family, local networks, and national laws, many non-believers have started challenging their own isolation by going public. In response to such newly visible discourses and the public visibility of non-religion, Muslim religious communities have started to create their own systems of meaning that discuss non-religion in new ways debating how to address it among themselves. One of the most important aspects of this inter- and intracommunal exchange over issues of (non)belief is taking place in the loosely regulated digital media space.
This panel’s purpose is to explore the role of digital and other media in shaping a new dynamic between nonbelievers and the religious communities they left behind. It grapples with themes such as gender, self-narratives, and purposeful messaging among media users. In particular, we explore (i) how different and differently placed female activist nonbelievers use the conversation on gender to create self-fashioned and mediated atheist personalities; (ii) whether online platforms have provided the nonbelievers with a tool to “talk back” that seeks dialogue and exchange with religious co-citizens, or if it has remained mainly a “talking among” like-minded non-believers; and (iii) how the dynamics of social media shape and reconfigure pro-religious and anti-religious messaging and counter-messaging in the Arab world. The panel concludes that the meaning of religion in Muslim communities is changing, and conversations between believers and nonbelievers are the most accurate indicator of such change.