Arab League Holds Panel Discussion to Discuss Research on Role of Media in Combating Terrorism

The Secretariat General of the Arab League today held its seventh research-focused panel discussion as part of the second day of its regular meetings on the role of media in combating terrorism and hate speech. The meetings, which commenced on Sunday, are being jointly hosted by the Dubai Press Club (DPC) and Watani Al Emarat Foundation, in collaboration with the Secretariat General of the Arab League.

Running for three days, the event will conclude on Tuesday with the 22nd meeting of the Permanent Media Committee tasked with reviewing the role of media in countering terrorism. The Committee will discuss and approve the recommendations made by research papers presented on the first two days of the meetings.

The panel discussion, which covered a total of four research papers presented by the UAE, Iraq, Morocco and Egypt, was chaired by Director of Technical Administration of the Council of Arab Information Ministers at the Arab League Dr. Fawzi Al Ghweil.

UAE Soft Power

Dr. Saeed Hassan, from the Organised Crime Department of Dubai Police, presented the UAE’s research paper titled ‘The Role of Soft Power in Countering Terrorism’. Dr. Hassan discussed the tools that can be used to achieve soft power, which he defined as the ability to influence others to get the desired results. During his presentation, Dr. Hassan said that as part of the foreign policy of many nations, tourism, culture, arts and sports are considered effective soft power tools. Referring to the UAE, he said that the country has succeeded, through its balanced policy pioneered by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to build strong international relationships. He added that the UAE continues to consolidate and expand its ties with other nations through positive diplomacy, which has helped make the UAE passport one of the world’s top-ranked. 

Dr. Hassan also referred to other soft power tools such as philanthropy and humanitarian aid, fields in which the UAE has made significant global contributions. He highlighted a number of charity initiatives launched by the UAE including ‘Dubai Cares’ which works to improve children's access to quality primary education in developing countries. The initiative has 18 million beneficiaries to date. The ‘Noor Dubai Foundation’ was another example, he said, noting that the non-profit foundation has benefited more than 27 million people.

In his discussion about the growing role of UAE soft power, he said the country has been able to enter new areas and launch several initiatives such as Smart Dubai Government, the Artificial Intelligence Strategy, and other global brands like DP World and Emirates. He said the UAE has also succeeded in promoting its soft power by annually organising international sporting events.

Dr. Hassan highlighted the negative aspects of soft power, which he said could be used to hurt communities. “Terrorist organisations today use soft power to attract sympathy and persuade people to adopt destructive ideas,” he said, stressing the need for measures to counter such negative influences.

Stressing the pivotal role of media and its role as a soft power tool, he urged media outlets to be aware of what they publish and promote on their platforms. “An example of this is the videos shared showing terrorist organisations like ISIS torturing and killing victims in cold blood. While most people disapprove of such videos, some might find their production techniques impressive.”

The UAE research paper also highlighted key measures for combating negative soft power, terrorism and hate speech, including: confronting the supporters of terrorist organisations, uncovering their malicious objectives, strengthening international cooperation to combat terrorism and forming alliances to eliminate it. In addition, the research paper outlined draft plans to isolate terrorist groups, withhold funding opportunities and even dry up their sources, as well as enact and develop the necessary laws and legislation.

Dr. Hassan concluded his presentation by discussing the importance of establishing literacy programmes and reforming the educational system in the region’s countries. “The UAE’s contribution to combating terrorism through soft power resulted in the country being chosen as the headquarters of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, Violent Extremism (HEDAYAH) in Abu Dhabi in December 2012.

Iraq

Meanwhile,Mr. Asaad Nabil Mohamed Ali, presented a research paper titled "Media and the Growth of ISIS in Iraq", which discussed how the terrorist organisation used media platforms and recruited people from different specialisations to launch their campaigns and attract more followers.

Asaad Nabil Mohamed Ali explained the concept of ‘media terrorism’ and described its ability to destroy values and distort people’s minds. He shed light on methods used by ISIS to spread fake news and deceive people. He also spoke about how ISIS uses bilingual publications to promote itself and recruit more people, and shares images and videos on social media.

Egypt

Salah Abdulsamai Alsalhi, member of The Supreme Council for Media Regulation in Egypt discussed ‘The Role of Media Awareness and Educational Programmes in Combating Terrorist Ideology’, in which he highlighted the role of media and education in combating terrorism.

The research paper presented by Egypt discussed key measures for combating terrorism, including the clear policies that should be adopted by media institutions such as maintaining objectivity and respect for other religions. He further highlighted the importance of providing an educational system that helps instill good values among the youth.

Morocco 

The research paper from Morocco was presented by Dr. Abdulatif bin Safiya, Director of Higher Institute of Media and Communication, titled "Media Approaches to Countering Acts of Terrorism and Media Terrorism in the Arab World", in which he discussed the use of terrorism to create fear and panic.

He noted that terrorist groups now use the internet as a platform to recruit people. He further highlighted key measures that should be adopted by the media to combat terrorism.

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