In order to improve today’s global information space the attendees of the second forum called “Journalists from Muslim Countries Against Extremism” urged all states to ban the channels that distribute extremist and xenophobic materials. The forum that has recently been held in Moscow attracted over 70 representatives of prominent media sources from Asia, Africa and Europe, along with the members of scientific and journalist communities from Russia.
Delegates from a wide range of countries, from Albania to Indonesia, shared their experience in combating the common enemy – extremism, terrorist supporters and sympathizer along with the ideological propaganda that they distribute. Journalists stressed the fact that without addressing the socio-economic problems of Islamic societies, one cannot genuinely hope to fight extremism, since more of often than not bitter poverty and despair forces people into joining radical groups.
Most attendees agreed that in recent months ISIS forces have been pushed back, especially due to Russia’s military involvement in Syria, which deprive this terrorist group of the strategic initiative along with the territory which it previously controlled.
This statement has been supported by Hamdy Handal El Sayed Mohamed (Vice-President of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Gumhuriya), Mohammad Al Bishar (from Morocco the deputy head of the European Muslims organization), and a former Yemeni Minister Vaed Baadib, who labeled Russia’s actions in Syria “a unique surgical operation.” At the same time most journalists agreed that you cannot effectively combat terrorism with military means alone.
Radical Islamists have been consistently expanding their activities in social networks, while making an ever increasing number of propaganda movies and clips. According to Iran’s ambassador Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, ISIS has even created its own satellite channel, that broadcasts a wide range of various propaganda programs, including those for children, women and the elderly. One can note that the website of this terrorist group has been translated into 18 languages.
Turkish writer Selcuk Gyultashly (from the opposition newspaper Zaman) in his speech urged the world not to fight against mosquitoes, but fighting the marsh that creates them instead. Journalists are supposed to objectively cover various events, while giving them a professional evaluation. They must avoid the search for external enemies or conspiracy theories to explain the causes of extremism.
The attendees of the forum shared their thoughts on how to put a barrier to the spread of destructive ideas in social networks. The general conclusion has been that the financial sources of radical cells and terrorist organizations must be carefully tracked in order to see a decline in their propaganda activities.
It has also been mentioned that without the systematic monitoring of radical channels and websites that promote “hero martyrs’ and the cult of death, one cannot provide an adequate answer to the propaganda war ISIS has been waging.
The second forum “Journalists of Muslim countries against extremism” that has been organized by the Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic world” showed that journalists that stand at the forefront of the fight with the common enemy are capable of mutual support in their belief that Russia can become a coordinating player in the common effort.
The attendees welcomed the decision to establish Yevgeny Primakov International Prize that will be awarded for the best anti-extremism publications, along with the opening of the Arabic version of the Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic world” website.
Yuri Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.