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The first Islamic texts to appear on the web -- scanned translations of the Qur'an and hadith (Prophet Mohamed's teachings) -- were posted by Muslim students or professionals working in the high-tech precincts that spawned the Internet in the early 1980s. According to Jon Anderson, co-editor of New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere, "they were motivated to use their skills to assure a place for Islam in the on-line medium, whose potential to reach a new public they understood. That is, they were laying claim for their religion... Their tools were command of the technology and the core texts." The Internet remains virtually impossible to censor. "The emergence of the SuraLikeIt web pages in 1998, which contained fabricated 'verses' allegedly in the style of the Qur'an," says Bunt, brought the issue to the forefront, igniting a censorship debate in Egypt and North America. Even after the site's web service provider (AOL) bowed to pressure from Muslim groups, similar sites emerged elsewhere. This prompted a number of Muslim institutions, including Cairo's Al-Azhar (Islam's oldest seat of learning), "to establish their own web sites in order to provide an on-line response to sites they deemed 'un-Islamic'". Indeed, the issue of authority came hand in hand with the rapid spread of online Islam. Who should be allowed to speak in the name of Islam? ( see article below ) The Internet can only provide one answer: everybody. Considering Islam's freedom from hierarchy and the popularity of chat rooms and discussion boards, everybody becomes their own judge, according to Khaled Abou El-Fadl, a US-based professor of Islamic law, who adds that the Internet makes it more difficult for Muslims to decide who speaks with legitimate authority. "Legitimacy," he says, "comes with accountability -- and the Internet dilutes accountability." Scholars argue that this is precisely the edge of online Islam. A medium such as the Internet, by providing equal access to all opinions -- be they with or against religion, fundamentalist or modernist, aimed at clarifying or distorting Islam -- in fact affords Islam the opportunity to defend itself.