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Media outlets should join war on terror — experts

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 07,2015 - Last updated at Oct 07,2015

Panelist during a joint conference between the Arab League of States and the Jordan News Agency, Petra, discuss possible traditional and social media action against radical organisations (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Using traditional and social media to counter terrorist groups’ campaigns and propaganda is as equally important as military strikes, experts said on Tuesday.

Terrorist groups, including Daesh, successfully use social networking sites to recruit fighters from across the world. They even use any available media outlets to spread their message of terror and draw peoples’ attention to their criminal acts, which necessitates coordination and systematic efforts to counter such campaigns, they said.

Speaking at a pan-Arab conference here Tuesday on the role of Arab media in facing terrorism, Arab media experts and officials said it is fundamental to educate the public on social media usage to protect them from terrorist groups’ “relentless efforts to promote their ideology”, stressing that the media have a pivotal role in this respect.

Assistant Secretary General and Head of the Media and Communication section at the League of Arab States Haifa Abu Ghazaleh said terrorist organisations use media to mislead the public. “Some do not even consider a terrorist act successful if it does not grab the attention of media.”

Abu Ghazaleh added that these groups need media like a living organism needs oxygen, and as such “media outlets should face this danger because they are capable of influencing the masses”.

Stressing that coverage by some media outlets of terrorist groups’ attacks helps indirectly promote these groups, Jordan News Agency, Petra, Director General Feisal Shboul said the war on terrorism is the war of Muslims and Arabs.

“Daesh is very successful in using Twitter in particular for new recruits and promoting its ideology. Media war on such terrorist groups is as important as military operations,” Shboul said at a session during the two-day conference held by the Arab League and the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

He added that a key focus area should be TV channels as they play an important role in raising awareness, noting that 70 per cent of content shared on social networking sites comes from TV channels.

Shboul said there is need for coordinated efforts across the Arab world spearheaded by key figures, intellectuals, religious leaders and opinion leaders to counter messages promoted by “terrorist” groups including Daesh.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said there is a need for more coordination when it comes to efforts to counter terrorist groups’ messages in media and through social media.

“We need to see more efforts. Current efforts are sometimes sporadic. There is a need for greater efforts by the Arab and Muslim world through media as the war on terror is ours,” said the minister at the opening of the conference.

“Media outlets should have programmes and strategies… the war on terror is also through media,” he said.

The minister added that telecom operators and Internet service providers have an important role to play, stressing the need for regulation as these entities have a moral responsibility to stop terrorist groups from promoting their ideologies through the digital world.

 

Issues to be debated by participants representing various Arab countries include the challenges facing media organisations in countering terrorism in the Arab region and globally.

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