Manal al-Sharif is a Saudi Arabian former extremist Muslim who was liberalized by the Internet and became a women's rights activist in her country. Reading this quote I was struck that her experience is similar to a Jehovahs Witness experience, including mine, and gives me hope that many more people who are brought up in extremist environments will wake up, no matter what their backgrounds. The Internet is a fabulous thing. And this site. Thank you, Simon.
"In 2000, the Internet was introduced in Saudi Arabia. It was the first time I went online. Now, let me give you a picture of myself: as an extremist, I covered myself from head to toe. I had always followed the custom strictly. I loved drawing, but one day when they told us in school that it was sinful to draw portraits of animals or people, I felt I had to comply. I dutifully gathered all my paintings and drawings and burned them. Meanwhile, I found myself burning inside. This was not fair. I had learned as much from a computer. The Internet, you see, was the first door that allowed Arab youth to venture into the outside world. I was young, thirsty to learn about other people and other religions. I started communicating with people who held different opinions, and soon those conversations raised questions in my head. I began to realize how very small was the box I was living in. It looked all the smaller once I stepped out of it. Slowly, I started to lose my phobia of having my pure beliefs polluted."