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Tweeps 2017 Forum Focuses on the Fight Against Extremist Ideologies Online

The fifth Tweeps forum took place on the 21st of May 2017, an annual event focusing on current digital affairs, and specifically on social networks.

Promoting the sharing of experiences interactively between participants, the 2017 theme of “Countering Extremism and Terrorism” focused at length on issues related to fighting radical ideologies on online forums.

Tweeps: Envisioning the Digital Future of Saudi Arabia

Organized by the MiSK Foundation, and chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, each of the Tweeps forums brings together personalities from varied horizons: academia, religious thinkers, political leaders and businessmen, but also a segment which represents the next generation of users, influencers and personalities of the main social networks.

Round tables focused on contemporary and future issues of everything digital: its rapid transformation in terms of protocol and use in the Middle East region. This year’s event brought together prominent and prestigious participants: Djibouti’s President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

A hotly-anticipated attendee was United States President Donald Trump did not show up in the end, although he was present at the unveiling of the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Riyadh earlier that day. His daughter, Ivanka Trump spoke before the distinguished guests, stressing that social media “empowers the people”.

A forum complementing the unveiling of the new Saudi anti-terrorism center

Although women’s concerns in the digital realm, the building of sports communities, Islam’s impact on civilization and its online presence were all discussed during Tweeps, the topic of combatting the propagation of terrorist and extremist ideologies which was addressed in most round tables. All in time for the unveiling of the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology which took place the same day, in the presence of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi.

A Digital Alliance in Fighting Terrorism

Both Emirati and Saudi Ministers of Foreign Affairs, in their respective speeches, addressed the importance of harshening the penalty for glorifying terrorism online. This stance is a common one among decision-makers in Saudi politics: a recent comment made by Secretary-General of the Muslim World League stressed that the fight against terrorist groups today goes beyond military action, saying, “We know these groups can only be defeated if we defeat their ideology”.

Also present at the conference was Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah. President, Founder of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, and who insisted on a twin approach. According to him, projecting the values of moderate Islam on collaborative media, as well as intercultural and interfaith dialogue will bring about the downfall of detrimental ideologies, which try to spread hateful messages based on misread fundamentals.