“Tweeps” Tackled Extremist Ideology Online and Hailed Launching “Etidal” Center

Organized by the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation “MiSK,” Tweeps fifth session was held on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh to discuss the topic of “Countering Extremism and Terrorism.” The participants tackled the extremist ideology in social media networks and how extremists use these networks to recruit young people. In that regard, the U.A.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, emphasized that terrorism has no religion or nationality, given that there are terrorists from European countries too. He explained that 60% of ISIS newcomers came to Europe after converting to Islam with the lack of knowledge about this religion.

During the session on building new digital alliances against extremism with the participation of the Saudi Foreign Minister H.H. Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, Mr. Abdullah ibn Zayed asserted that in spite of governments’ massive efforts to counter terrorism, there is still more to execute in that matter, especially with the dramatic increase in terrorist attacks after al-Qaeda despite the enormous amounts of money spent to fight terrorism after the events of 9/11.

Ibn Zayed also upheld the attention paid by Arab leaders to counter extremism in addition to the European countries’ efforts to serve the same purpose. Ibn Zayed also hoped not to reach the point where his country is forced to call those who are not executing efforts to fight terrorism one by one.

During Tweeps Forum, participants and speakers supported the news of inaugurating the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (GCCEI).

The Saudi Foreign Minister, H.H. Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, stressed that any counter-terrorism strategy requires three key factors: fighting terrorists on the ground, cutting off all funding sources, and finally facing the extremist ideology, which he believes is the hardest.

Mr. Al-Jubeir also noted that social networking companies are starting to realize the danger of extremist groups that take advantage of their positions to execute terrorist agendas. This fact pushed these companies to further cooperate with governments by providing them with information about the identity of these terrorists.

Sheikh of Al-Azhar: Extremists Took Advantage of Technological development to Promote Destructive Ideas

During the fifth session of Tweeps, many clerics participated in the Forum, including Dr. Ahmed Eltayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. Dr. Eltayeb discussed in detail the realities of terrorism in the Arab World quoting numerous Qur’anic verses and sayings from the Prophet’s traditions. He added that the culture of hatred is elevated by extremists who took advantage of the massive technological development to promote destructive ideas amongst young people using well-studied strategies to attract victims emotionally and mentally at first then establish behavioral and practical involvement.

Majed Abdullah’s congratulations to Al-Hilal FC Reflects “Tweeps” Message

During a session about fostering community resilience in sports, Mr. Majed Abdullah,
former football player and striker for Saudi national team, commenced his speech by congratulating Al-Hilal FC for winning the Champions League and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup. The audience reacted to that with a warm round of applause.

The Saudi star, Mr. Majed Abdullah, raised the following motto: “Defend your team and be proud of it yet respect the other teams” to highlight the importance of respecting other people’s feelings and not to lose friendship with others.

In return, Mr. Sami Al-Jaber, Alshabab Club Manger, said that sports figures are held responsible for sports fanaticism in the first place, then social media and the absence of the win/lose culture. He explained that what fans do is driven by their view of sports figures as role models and a source of reaction.

Mr. Al-Jaber explained that sports fanaticism means having prejudice to a particular view and neglecting the others. He added that religious, ethnic, and sports fanaticisms are a ticking bomb that must be controlled.

The former Portuguese football player, Mr. Luis Figo, emphasized the importance of countering sports fanaticism suggesting to start with education because it is important to teach young people how to be good and positive.

On the other hand, the former Egyptian football player, Mr. Hazem Emam, said that sports programs are responsible for rising sports fanaticism. He also stressed the importance of dealing with social media issues more seriously, pointing out that many unfortunate events took place in Port Said recently because of social media.

Advisor to the President of United States: Youth are the Generation of Entrepreneurs

The Advisor to the President of the United States and the President’s daughter, Ms. Ivanka Trump, concluded the sessions of Tweeps Forum with a speech on behalf of her father. Throughout that speech, Trump confirmed that youth across the Muslim and Arab World are capable of spreading peace and tolerance. She also believes that the current generation’s voice will be heard through social media networks.

Ivanka Trump stated that her two-day visit to Saudi Arabia was extraordinary and she extended her gratitude to the administration of Saudi Arabia for their warm hospitality.

Ms. Trump pointed out that social media networks are powerful tools and young people are the generation of entrepreneurship at all levels. She added, “I spent a lot of time today meeting with some of the great Saudi entrepreneurs. It was a privilege. It was an honor. I learned so much from hearing about the unique opportunities and challenges that face them every day.”

She also mentioned that Saudi Arabia built “Etidal” Center to combat extremism in 30 days. She said, “I may need to borrow those contractors for a next construction project. It was incredibly impressive.”

In the fifth session of Tweeps 2017, the Forum discussed 7 main topics, namely the constant cooperation to counter terrorism, countering extremism and hatred through social media networks, sports and social media networks, building new digital alliances against extremism, Islam and its impact on civilizations and its presence on social media, and the fight against terrorism in social media networks.

The Forum aims to encourage young people to cooperate with governments and other responsible organizations as they tackle those who incite terrorism and extremism online, to increase young people’s awareness of their own responsibility while online and the positive impact they can have as they use social media platforms, to promote impactful discussions on Twitter and the rejection of extremism, to encourage young men and women to participate and achieve a positive influence, and to promote the concept of effective communication between governments and the public through Twitter and other social media platforms.