Thursday, April 07, 2011

Chain mail: Afghanistan Edition

From the Pajhwok News Agency (article text requires subscription):

Mobile phone users in Kabul have started receiving text messages warning them that if they do not send on the names of Allah to several other people, they will endure a lifetime of misfortune.  While most people in Kabul do not want to insult their religion, they say they cannot afford to send out to so many people.  The messages are being sent out by all mobile phone companies, but the companies deny they have a role in the texts.  The head of telecommunications services at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) said that they had not received any complaints so far.  (2011032o)


Anonymous said...

I'm really very interested to watch and see whether the introduction of Western technology will indeed Westernize the Muslim world, or whether it will simply be adapted into the Muslim world. I can see it going either way (or both at the same time).

Dr. Φ said...

This is a good example of how technology (text messages) brings a Western fad ("forward to ten people . . .") with a Muslim twist ("the names of Allah").

But really, is chain mail the best Western Civ has to offer Afghanistan? Is it even really "Western"? I think it even predates the Internet; I seem to recall having once received a chain letter in regular mail once in the early 90s. I think the chain mail phenomenon plays on something deep in the human psyche. I'm just thinking out loud here, but we humans tend to me a superstitious lot, notwithstanding the efforts of monotheistic religions to purge it from us. And we have a desire to communicate with other people. I think chain mail somehow lights up both of these portions of our brains.

Which probably explains why I'm immune to the stuff. I'm an introvert, so my communication needs are low, and notwithstanding my Christianity, I'm functionally a materialist in my day-to-day business.

Anonymous said...

It is even worse for Moslems. Once they have the name of Allah on their cell phone, they can never delete it. That would be sacreligious, like burning a Koran. So after a few months, the accumulated number of these text messages would fill up their inboxes and make their phones unusable for other text messages.

Also, with the name of Allah on their phones, they would not be able to use their phones for sinful purposes, like contacting a booty call, or accessing porn.

The only thing the phones would be good for after that is making them into triggering devices for IEDs.

Obviously, this is a Taliban plot. ISAF should contac the phone companies about deleting these messages from teh servers before the phones even see them.

Dr. Φ said...

Hale: Crap! I'll tell the IDC this evening.