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Saifuddin: Cohesive national effort needed to counter terrorist propaganda


 Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah

PETALING JAYA: There is an estimated 20,000 hours of audio-visual web content which support terrorism either directly or indirectly globally, and this needs to be countered online if the fight against recruitment by terror groups is to be won.

“Unfortunately, the counter-narrative is very small.

“It is probably just 10% in terms of proportion and we really need to work very hard,” said Global Movement of Moderates chief executive Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic).

He called for a cohesive national effort to counter online terrorist propaganda targeting Malay youths.

Saifuddin said organisations in Europe were doing a good job of producing short (counter-narrative) videos, but there very few in this region, especially in Malay.

“I would urge local video and documentary makers, as well as bloggers to flood social media with images and stories that can counter terrorism,” he added.

He cited the #NotInMyName campaign against the IS by young British Muslims in the East London-based group Active Change Foundation (ACF) following the kidnapping and murder of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning last year.

The ACF online campaign aims to spread the word that IS does not represent Islam or the Muslim community.

It is similar to Chicago-based campaign MyJihad, which started in 2012 to “take back Islam from Muslim extremists and anti-Muslim extremists alike”.

In Malaysia, social justice advocate Datuk Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim said his Jihad for Justice campaign aimed to explain that jihad did not mean violence, killing or terrorism.

Saifuddin said it was not enough to leave the task of tackling the threat to the authorities because counter-terrorism involved dealing with soft supporters who include midnight uploaders, fanboys and fangirls who spread the propaganda.

“Civil society, universities and religious departments need to work together.

“What is needed is something like a central command to coordinate the effort.”

Saifuddin said the Government also needed to explain and get public support for its proposed Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) as the public might view the law, “especially the aspect of detention without trial, with suspicion”.

He added that Pota should be used carefully to avoid further radicalising those at risk.

Saifuddin said this happened in Britain during its campaign against the Irish Republican Army and also after the Patriot Act was enacted after the Sept 11 attacks in the United States.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission head of strategic communications Sheikh Ahmad Raffie Abd Rahman said they were working closely with the police to counter the threat, but declined to elaborate.

He also advised parents to monitor what their children are being exposed to online.

“Part of our advocacy work includes the Click Wisely campaign,” he said.

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