Yesterday I answered the question Is Sunni versus Shia the main division in Islam?. But it got deleted with an explanation, stating:

This is nothing but anti-Saudi/Salafi propaganda masked as an answer. Is it not appropriate here.

And here is my deleted answer quoted verbatim:

Yes, it is by far the greatest division in Islam. However, both Shiites and Sunnis adhere to the same God, the same book and the same prophet. So by definition they all belong to the larger group of muslims. Both groups (except certain Wahhabi cults within the Sunni Salafist traditions who takfir Shiites and even many Sunnis) also consider each other to be muslim.

What has today been dividing the Sunni and Shiite masses, though, has much less to do with ideological differences (as far as the general muslim masses are concerned) but political grievances which are in a large degree caused by political manipulation and propaganda by certain powerful governments in the region and the world.

I, personally a shitte, blame these differences on Western and Saudi propaganda and political manipulations.

I don't understand the propaganda charges. Since I mentioned facts that are common knowledge and, even if they are not, is it wrong to express an at least popular opinion?

And how isn't the question https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/17153/why-so-many-radical-muslims/17154, on a similar political-sectarian theme, relying on many premises against violent Muslim groups, off-topic and propaganda, while the answer quoted above is?

As a side question may I know why was I suspended from Chat when I prompted the moderator in there asking why this was found to be propaganda? I know we are expected to use meta to seek explanations but since it happens often that users discuss the closure reasons in chat I thought it would be ok. I never expected I would be suspended for following a fairly common non-legal practice.

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    I rolled back goldPseudo's edit. The context is relevant, it shouldn't have been removed, the removal by the mod who is involved in the case is a clear case of conflict of interests, looks like censorship, and was inappropriate.
    – Kaveh
    Nov 12, 2014 at 8:38
  • @intatuated: your last sentence definitely went too far. Try to avoid discussing current geopolitics and countries, it is against the policy that such discussions should be avoided on the site.
    – Kaveh
    Nov 12, 2014 at 8:40
  • @Kaveh, Censorship (noticed or unnoticed) is the order of the day in this site; an inevitable consequence of having one active moderator and lack of real community moderation. As for the last sentence since these are widely known facts (even admitted by US and Saudi authorities themselves) they don't or should not make a controversial topic. And as the record shows we tend to allow non-controversial political subjects relevant to the study of Islam on this site.
    – infatuated
    Nov 12, 2014 at 9:36
  • I think it is better to disagree with specific actions in place of posting general statements: the first one is constructive, the second one is not. Regarding the sentence, it does not matter that it is well-known (from your perspective), current political issues are typically controversial and we have an explicit policy to avoid them and you should respect that policy.
    – Kaveh
    Nov 13, 2014 at 8:15
  • @السید____علی be careful with your edits. OP was clearly quoting the text verbatim. And make your edits count. Nov 16, 2014 at 14:31
  • I don't think that one's opinion is ever an appropriate answer for SE.
    – Daniel
    Nov 17, 2014 at 0:57
  • @Daniel, I actually regret the fact that I expressed an objective fact as a personal opinion to provide the excuse for deletion!
    – infatuated
    Nov 17, 2014 at 3:24
  • @infatuated even if you had expressed it as fact it would still obviously be an expression of opinion
    – Daniel
    Nov 17, 2014 at 15:49
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    @Kaveh I don't think your interference mentioned above is helpful in the least. Rather than help users understand good house-keeping, calling it censorship adds to the problem not to the solution. Clearly the title of the post is about one thing (what makes posts propaganda), but the body later conflates the issue by ranting about chat suspensions. The latter should be a separate meta post, as the edit comment made clear. Encouraging these sorts or mix-and-match complaints rather than clear separation of issues only hinders any possible resolution.
    – Caleb
    Nov 18, 2014 at 10:14
  • "except certain Wahhabi cults within the Sunni Salafist traditions who takfir Shiites and even many Sunnis." You're just accusing and throwing blame without a prove/evidence.
    – Omar
    Nov 19, 2014 at 11:01

3 Answers 3


Propaganda, à la Google (emphasis mine):

information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

It has nothing to do with whether the information is true, or even popular knowledge, rather what matters is that it is promotional, and often biassed and/or misleading. It's far more about how the alleged facts are presented than in the veracity of the facts themselves.

We are not an Islamic site, and we are especially not a site for debate or apologetic. We are a site for neutral and academic study of the topic of Islam, and propaganda in general is neither neutral nor academic. As Jon said in an earlier meta post,

Answers should answer the question asked and not try to wedge in alternate points of view.

In the case of the answer posted by OP there are multiple examples of "wedged in" information which do nothing to answer the actual question, but do promote an anti-Saudi/Salafi/Western viewpoint.

The question referred to in OP, for example, is neither explicitly requesting a Shi'ite opinion, nor is it asking about who to "blame" for the divisions in Islam, so the entire last sentence is wholly irrelevant. As is the jab at "certain powerful governments in the region." As is the jab at "certain Wahhabi cults within the Sunni Salafist traditions."

These inserts are clearly propaganda. Not only are they biassed, being presented from an obviously "anti" point of view, they are also so vague as to be useless. And the very fact that the first paragraph removed "certain Wahhabi cults" from the equation entirely (relegating them to a side-note) just implies (intentionally or not) that they're not even Muslim which is exactly the sort of sectarianism that we've been struggling against since the earliest days of the site.

If all propagandist material were removed from the answer, focussing only on the parts that are actually relevant to the question asked, you'd end up with the following at best:

Yes, it is by far the greatest division in Islam. However, both Shiites and Sunnis adhere to the same God, the same book and the same prophet. So by definition they all belong to the larger group of muslims. Both groups also consider each other to be muslim.

Which is barely even an answer — it definitely misses out on all the nuances of the question that was actually asked — and involves gutting roughly two-thirds of the post itself.

As for the second question you link to, I don't understand how you could even begin to compare them. Unlike your post, the top-voted answers to that question…

  1. …are providing explanations for why there are so many radical Muslims because the question is explicitly asking for those reasons,
  2. …are focussed on answering the actual question asked without unnecessarily adding tangential or unwanted facts,
  3. …are still written in an unbiassed and professional tone without accusatory language or finger-pointing,
  4. …are full of specifics rather than vague allegations and opinion.

Presenting facts when they're requested is not propaganda in and of itself; as I mentioned before, what matters is more how the facts are presented than the facts themselves.

You would do well to read up on the difference between objective writing and subjective writing, but fully explaining this is well outside of the scope of our site (might I suggest Writers.SE?). In short, even when objective facts are involved, propaganda is still very much subjective writing.

And as for the chat-related side-note, I might've carried a discussion with you if you'd come in politely and reasonably. As a rule I don't respond well to hostility, and I generally consider users who come out of nowhere and hammer me with questions and arguments that I've so-far expressed no interest in to be hostile. I told you I was not interested in discussing the topic with you because, quite frankly, I was not interested in discussing the topic with you.

You were suspended because even after that, you continued to argue with me. We expect users to behave respectfully towards each other at all times; coming in not only with hostility but with a blatant disregard for other users is not respectful by any stretch of the word, and is wholly inappropriate.


​ I checked the dialogue! I don't want to discuss whether the answer was propaganda or not!

when I read the exchanged sentences, I wondered when the Mod said that he did not care whether it was a real propaganda or not. So, why did he labeled the answer as propaganda and deleted it for this reason if he does not care whether it is propaganda or not? I reckon by that sentence he was indirectly saying the following: "I know what I'm doing. Don't seek the reasoning behind my decisions"

As a user among thousands of users, I really believe that his behavior in the chat room and the suspension was not justifiable and I condemn such actions.

This is a web site about Islam and should be Islamic. The visitors may not find the spirit of the site as Islamic if they see such behaviors and other instances like this! One would better learn the fundamentals of Islam firstly through our behavior then through the Q&As.

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    well, he actually said he doesn't care whether it was false or true propaganda. But my argument was that whether is it propaganda at all. And I think 'falsity' is part of 'propaganda' definition, and what I wrote was not only not false, but also a popular opinion, therefore, it is not propaganda.
    – infatuated
    Nov 10, 2014 at 12:12
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    This answer does nothing to address this discussion. And let me reiterate: This site is NOT an "Islamic" site! Nov 17, 2014 at 15:30
  • @BleedingFingers How can it be possible? Nov 19, 2014 at 11:25

To goldPseudo

It has nothing to do with whether the information is true, or even popular knowledge, rather what matters is that it is promotional, and often biassed and/or misleading.

What is so biased and misleading about the fact that some Salafi/Wahhabi groups with Takfiri mentality undeniably funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and US hold very strong views against Shiites and some Sunni denominations and involve in brutal violence against them as seen in ISIS, Al-Qaeda the Taliban? What is so misleading about this? I know the charge of Takfiri might be overused these days as many other labels, but that was exactly why I intentionally limited the connotations by modifying my statement by "some" and "certain" Salafist groups. So the anti-Salafi charge is also grossly inaccurate. That part of my answer was addressing Takfiri ideology.

Also my answer on the phenomena of Takfirism is not a Shiite perspective. It is shared by any one familiar with geopolitical facts of Mid-East. My intention was to show that the divisions as we see today are less rooted in Islamic understanding as they are in politics. This I viewed as a useful side-note for a westerner. So calling it propaganda, etc means that you are making ill judgements about my intentions, which should not be so when at least the note is a factual statement. So by all fair and objective criteria the propaganda charge is unfounded.

As for the chat suspension.

Contrary to how you interpret my chat messages, there was no hostility and disrespect in them. I wonder which element or factor caused you feel any hostility. But as you yourself clearly admit you were not interested to discuss it simply because you were not interested to discuss it, which to me means there was no legal/moral basis for your reaction other than a personal attitude. Considering our previous smooth and respectful chat conversations (despite the history of your similarly sporadic arrogant reactions which I always try to forget and forgive) you coming out again responding so arrogantly and using all moderator tools at your disposal to suppress me is a clear example of abuse and beyond justification. But as have been the case with other instances in the past, I try to once again forget about this yet another unfair treatment. I only hope next time, you think again before rushing to action based on subjective assumptions!

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    And you're completely misrepresenting the definition of 'propaganda'. Being biassed and misleading is not definitive of propaganda, it's merely a common trait of it. The definitive aspect of propaganda, as I clearly stated in my post, is that it's promotional.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:08
  • @goldPseudo, Alright, I edit that part out and make it a separate Q&A. But as for the charge of propaganda, as I said you have to make ill judgements about my intentions and there's no objective way to demonstrate whether a statement of fact is 'promotion' and even if that's promotion (whatever promotion means), I wonder how anything on this site is not promoted considering the public nature of the site itself!
    – infatuated
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:09
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    And I think you are also being very over-strict about the question of relevance. What I wrote about Takfiri ideology was not what the author has directly asked but I found it as a useful note as I said. And such notes are fairly common in SE especially on humanities sites (such as Philosophy.SE much more on politics.SE). But even with the most strict measure, that part could be deleted on irrelevance ground not 'propaganda'.
    – infatuated
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:16
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    Again, we're a site for focussed answers to focussed questions. Even if two-thirds of your post was "irrelevant" instead of "propaganda", that's still hardly an argument for it being a focussed answer.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:52
  • @goldPseudo, Alright, agreed. I admit it was not directly relevant, but I also wish the policies are applied uniformly to all cases. And I also wish you treat users more tolerantly. Heavy-handed measures don't leave a good impression!
    – infatuated
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:59

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