Nov 8, 2008

Lifestyle - to launch virtual world site for Muslims

HELSINKI (AFP) - Finnish-based, the world's largest Muslim online community, will in a few weeks launch a prototype of a Muslim-friendly virtual world, the company said Friday.

"The launch of the beta-version of Muxlim Pal, planned to take place in a few weeks, will be global since anybody can access it and test it and provide us with useful user feedback," Muxlim chief executive Mohamed El-Fatatry wrote to AFP in an email.

At Muxlim Pal, which El-Fatatry compares to the popular Habbo teenage networking and virtual world site, users will be able to create their own spaces and interact with their friends.

The launch of the full version of Muxlim Pal, which will offer additional features, will be announced later, El-Fatatry said.

Muxlim Pal will aim to bring Muslim communities around the world together, but everybody interested in socialising in a virtual world without fear of stumbling across offensive content is welcome, regardless of their religion, he said.

"Some Muslim countries block access to some of the general virtual worlds since they are not Muslim and family-friendly," he noted.

Tehran for instance prevents Iranians from accessing the YouTube video-sharing site because authorities consider some of the content immoral, while Saudi Arabia has set up a commission to filter the Internet, according to Reporters Without Borders.

"We are focused on the Muslim lifestyle as part of a diverse, all-inclusive world, which recognises and welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds who want to share, learn and have fun," El-Fatatry said.

Since he and Pietari Paeivaenen launched the website in December 2006, the site has registered more than 1.5 million visitors from some 190 different countries each month.

Among other things, offers users news and the possibility to join discussion and picture-sharing forums, as well as the opportunity to listen to the Koran.

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