Fighting radicalization to enhance e-strategy for a youth-comprehensive approach towards on-line terrorism

Trainings on recognising the dangers of social media in Pulwama, J&K

Pulwama, 19-01-2021: Members of “Save Youth Save Future” organised the latest event of series of full-day trainings as part of the project “Free 4 Youth: Fighting radicalization to enhance e-strategy for a youth-comprehensive approach towards on-line terrorism”. The event was held at Community Hall District Pulwama where 78 male local youth participated, and was moderated by a young and talented female social activist from North Kashmir. There were in total 5 main trainers.

The event consisted of 2 main sessions. The first one focused on gaining new knowledge about social media communication and reflecting on how social media outlets are now central in a wide range of social and political movements. The session further emphasised on the positive aspects of social media channels, giving insight into various work possibilities. It also discussed both the emergence of major socio-political movements online as well as terrorist propaganda campaigns and the evolution of their radicalization videos. Thus, a social media sentiment analysis which codes media content along a positive-negative continuum shed a light on the internal dynamics of such online campaigns.

Henceforth, the following session explored how young people could recognize suspicious posts or messages on different social media channels. Through various workshops participants practiced how to spot (terrorist) propaganda online and how to tackle it.

Given that during the time of the event, the city of Pulwama was cordoned off by Security Forces due to suspected terrorist activity, and still many young people showed up provides for the huge interest in the topic and the success of the event. Around 75% of participants expressed their enthusiasm in learning more about the positive sides of social media channels and how to use them to their advantage, e.g. becoming bloggers and influencers. Meanwhile, a small portion of the participants also vividly manifested their conservative thinking and almost extremist set up to the trainers, arguing that the usage of social media channels is wrong and they should be banned. Considering the high number of radicalization in the region of Pulwama, such opinions are not surprising and furthermore highlight the importance of continuing conducting such awareness and educational trainings in an understanding, tolerant and compassionate manner.