The attitude towards the Internet has proved quite different.
Even the strictest Wahhabi scholars have legitimized the Internet—and launched their personal websites.
Printing machines entered the Ottoman Empire three centuries after they were first introduced in Europe.
Scholars regarded them as bid'a, an unlawful innovation, and it took the Napoleonic conquest of Egypt in 1798 to allow acknowledgment of their merit.
In the early phases of this struggle, as demonstrated by Bernard Lewis, Islam was more tolerant: In Muslim lands conquered by Christians, Christianity was imposed by force, and Muslims were sooner or later forced to choose between conversion, exile, and death; in Christian lands conquered by Muslims, Christians were tolerated alongside Jews as "People of the Book." One reason for this difference in attitude was that Muslims considered Christ a precursor while Christians considered Muhammad an impostor.Clerics understand that the Internet is a crucial arena in the fight for the souls and minds of the younger generation, and also that the Internet can be better controlled and screened compared to other media technologies.Using the Internet for Islamic purposes was not only permitted by scholars, even strict Wahhabi ones, but even encouraged.The number of converts significantly increased in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack, although it is not yet certain that the conversion surge in the United States has continued. While the data do not suggest that conversions can fundamentally change existing European demographics, they do highlight the challenge of conflicting values for Western democracies.Freedom of religion guarantees every person the right to convince or be convinced that a different faith than his own is true; however, some Muslim converts reject the very liberal foundations that allow them to operate freely.While liberalizing forms of interpretation have allowed more flexible approaches for some Muslim scholars since the late nineteenth century, this has not been the case in Saudi Arabia.