We'll soon say hello to Salamworld

The social networking site for Muslims is powering towards its launch during this year's Ramadan.

Salamworld spokersperson Yavuz Selim Kurt. Courtesy Yavuz Selim Kurt
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Introducing Salamworld

It's a global social networking site based on Islamic ideals and is to be launched in July during Ramadan.

Based in Istanbul and backed by a team of Russian and Turkish investors, Salamworld hopes to bridge cultural, traditional and sectarian barriers and bring Muslims together in one online community. The site supports eight languages including English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and Russian.

How it works

Like Facebook with a "halal" twist. Similar to the popular social networking site, users create profiles and have the ability to friend others as well as share audio and visual content, send private messages and create interest groups.

Then the spiritual factor kicks in: religious counselling will be readily available from certified imams. Also available will be an online Islamic library, mosque locations for various cities and the ability to purchase other Islam-inspired products. Posts deemed "not halal" will be removed by site administrators.

Restricted material

Mostly the same kind of stuff that would have you barred from other social networking sites, such as pornography and hate speech. Yavus Selim Kurt, the spokesperson for the site, stresses Salamworld is not interested in censorship. However, administrators will ensure a safe online environment by removing content seen as objectionable.

"We believe in freedom and human rights," he says. "However, my freedom ends where yours start. If someone is trying to harm, we will stop that. There will be no censorship in ideas. People will create communities through Salamworld and are free to discuss what they want. However, if someone's writings or sharing harms others' freedom, then we will remove it."

Is Salamworld in direct competition to Facebook?

Not at all, says Kurt. He states that not only will Salamworld users be able to share material found on Facebook, but it is also open to working with the social networking giant on future projects.

The real difference, he says, is Salamworld's aim to create an online community where millions of Muslims can congregate and express their views. "Unity is very important for all human beings but especially for Muslims," Kurt says. "For the past 300 years, the Muslim Ummah [community] has been scattered. Hopefully Salamworld will reunite this Ummah in the virtual world."

That sounds like a big ask

Perhaps, but Salamworld is nothing if not ambitious. "Our target is 50 million users by five years," Kurt states. Powering the Salamworld engine is the site-inclusive strategy. "For us it is about no politics, no haram and no barriers. We want to unite not only Muslims but everyone around family values."

Can non-Muslims join?

Of course. Kurt says Salamworld can be a perfect online entry point for those wanting to discover Islam. He also points out that the site could be a gold mine for advertisers. "We are a big population, a big market and we have a big social and economic footprint," he says. "We aim to be a bridge between Muslims and non-Muslims."

What to do until the launch

Keep up to date with the Salamworld website, and send them your thoughts. You can also join Salamworld's Facebook group.

For more details, visit www.salamworld.com