Latest Saudi Fatwa: Don't Rip Off WiFi

No problem using it in public parks or malls, though
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2016 12:41 PM CDT
Latest Saudi Fatwa: Don't Rip Off WiFi
In this Nov. 11, 2010, file photo, Saudi women with cellphones smoke tobacco and drink coffee in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Twenty-first-century fatwas have become way more technologically advanced than edicts of old against the likes of Salman Rushdie and other supposed infidels. To wit: A Saudi scholar has issued a ruling warning against the pilfering of WiFi, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. "Taking advantage of the WiFi service illegally or without the knowledge of other beneficiaries or providers is not allowed," was the stern mandate of Ali Al Hakami, a member of the Islamic religious council that advises the Saudi king. He clarified that public WiFi, such as that found in parks, hotels, and shopping malls, is A-OK to access. Gulf News points out that this most recent ruling aligns with one issued in April by Dubai's Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities after a reader on its website asked if it was OK to tap into a neighbor's WiFi.

"There is nothing wrong in using the line if your neighbors allow you to do so, but if [they] don't allow you, you may not use it," the department advised. Not that this is the first odd fatwa to be proclaimed: notes rulings have also come down from on high prohibiting emoji, women sitting in chairs, and travel to Mars. But some think it's pretty obvious no one should take something from others without asking—and that instead of a fatwa, Saudis should employ a more common-sense tactic: passwords. "We do not need a religious edict to pinpoint such basic things," one online commenter wrote, per the Gulf News. "Private property should remain private, especially [since] the owner paid money for the services. Nobody should just take advantage." (The academy that issues the Nobels finally blasted the fatwa against Rushdie—27 years after it was issued.)

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