Radicalization is rooted in the real world, and any attempt at countering it online has to be anchored in the real world. For this, IPDC projects can play a key role. This was the message of the IPDC Chairperson, Albana Shala, at the opening session of International Conference on ‘Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism’ held in UNESCO on 16 and 17 June.
The conference is convened in a partnership between the Information for All Programme and IPDC.
Ms Shala posed a number of questions: “How can we help youth de-romanticize danger and violence? How to nourish in them a sense of purpose and fulfilment and make radicalization less acceptable and desirable? How to empower youth be free?”
The Chair noted that although Internet plays a role in radicalisation, it was not the principal driver. Nevertheless, the Internet and offline media could be used to counter radicalization. In this, IPDC played a positive role by:
- Promoting media pluralism: freedom of choice so that individuals, young and old, have credible alternatives to messages that romanticise radicalization.
- Empowering young people to put their issues effectively onto the media and social media agenda, and to control their own identities – instead of leaving them vulnerable to emotional manipulation by propaganda or advertising.
- Capacity-building for journalists to be sensitive to their work possibly contributing towards stereotypes and misinformation among young people.
- Supporting safety of journalists so that they can report to the world on the role of extremists in radicalisation,
Ms Shala also listed the activities IPDC was proposing within the wider UNESCO project to take forward the momentum of the conference:
- Countering hate speech in media and social media;
- Promoting conflict-sensitive journalism practice;
- Promoting cross-cultural and cross-religious dialogue; and
- The safety of journalists.