Transnational Religious Practices on Facebook

Author(s) Seyedeh Behnaz Hosseini
Contact Seyedeh Behnaz Hosseini, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 11, Iss. 2, 2017, pp. 61-91
Published November 10, 2017
Type Comment
Abstract Access to cyberspace by Yezidi populations has given this group a platform for rebuilding their religious identity, which, in turn, has enabled them to challenge existing geographic, political and cultural constraints in Iraq. The Yezidi in Iraq have to live with the threat of discrimination and even violence. On the Internet, self-identification as Yezidi is done much more freely. The rise of the Yezidi in Iraqi media and in foreign media (via the diaspora) is closely interconnected. Experiences of persecution and of persistent libel and prejudice by the Muslim majority has forced the Yezidi to adopt distinctive religious practices due to forced migration to foreign countries. This article is an exploration of whether notions of sacred spaces and perceptions and practices of religious rituals are transformed in digital media, i.e. when moving from physical to virtual spaces. I will do this by applying visualization through visual imagery and virtual ethnography. This paper represents a theory on the Internet and religion: asking what implications the Internet holds for spiritual identities, worship and sense of ethno-religious community.
Keywords social media, study of religion, ethnography, Iraq, cultural studies, Yezidi