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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005, 17:15 GMT
Saudis 'reform militants' on web
File photograph of a computer keyboard
Islamist militants themselves have made extensive use of the internet
The Saudi government has told an anti-terrorism conference in Riyadh that it has reformed Islamist militant sympathisers through the internet.

It says an initiative to "create awareness of the dangers of terrorism" has persuaded 250 militant sympathisers to renounce their views.

The government has also opened a hotline for people concerned that their relatives are influenced by extremism.

It has been under pressure to tackle extremist ideologies in the kingdom.


The Islamic Affairs minister, Saleh al-Sheik, said the ministry had carried out the campaign through Islamic and cultural websites.

"We had a dialogue with 800 [people] and more than a quarter were convinced. The rest are still continuing contact," he said, the Reuters news agency reports.

The initiative also includes the offer of direct counselling, Mr al-Sheik said.

He did not say how his office verified the identities of those that had communicated with his ministry.

Saudi Arabia has clamped down on militant networks since a triple suicide bombing in the capital in May 2003, in which 35 people died.

However, it has been criticised for not doing enough to tackle extremist ideologies that are widespread in the conservative kingdom, says the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Riyadh.

The government is using the conference to show that it is committed to fight international terrorism, our correspondent says.

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