|Photo Credit: @RJCJO (Royal Court's Twitter)|
Young people are the largest group of Internet users and extremist groups spread their poisonous ideology across social media platforms, luring victims into their dark world under religious pretexts.
~ His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II
At age twenty, the dashing Crown Prince of Jordan, His Royal Highness Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II, is the youngest person to have ever chaired a meeting of the 15-member Security Council of the United Nations. He did so while serving as President of the Council on behalf of his country for the month of April 2015. Appropriately, the meeting he chaired was a debate on “The Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace.”
Noting that more than half of the world’s population is below the age of thirty, the Crown Prince cautioned:
We are in a race to invest in the hearts and minds as well as the capabilities of the youth. The ideologies of darkness can reach where the armies cannot, as modern communications have provided to every voice an opportunity to reach every ear willing to listen.
The Prince’s remarks, promoting youth in the peacemaking process, were tweeted - first in Arabic, then in English - to Twitter, with the hashtag, #AlHusseinUNSC, from the verified Twitter account of the Royal Hashemite Court, @RHCJO. His remarks, in Arabic, were also posted to YouTube, with English subtitles, shared via Twitter. Photos of the event were posted to the Royal Court’s Instagram and Tumblr accounts.
The Royal Jordanian Court has consistently demonstrated a deep command of social media – and an ever-deeper desire to promote peace, tolerance, and opportunity, especially for youth, in a region troubled by violence and despair.
There are few people better poised – or possessing more poise – than the Crown Prince, when it comes to commanding leadership, particularly among the youth of the world, in promoting peace. His royal family claims direct lineage to the Prophet Mohammad. The Crown Prince is the 42nd-generation direct descendant.
The message delivered the by the Crown Prince to the Council, and tweeted by the Royal Court to the Twitterverse, is one that demands to be shared, as the alternative is, as the young Prince warned, a void that will be filled “by enemies of humanity,” magnified in reach by “modern communications,” social media.
The Young Are the Prime Victims
of Terrorism and Extremism
Just as his father, King Abdullah II, has made the point that the majority of victims of terrorism are Muslim, the Crown Prince observed that the “prime victims” of terrorism and extremism are the young.
Lured by Promises of
”Young people are the largest group of Internet users & extremist groups spread their poisonous ideology across social media platforms, luring victims into their dark world under religious pretexts,” he cautioned.
Social Media Mustered By
Terrorists to Target Youth
The Crown Prince cited some of the ways in which social media is being enlisted by terrorists to target the young. In particular, he noted that terrorists are using high-tech videos to “misleadingly fascinate” young viewers and to glorify “terrorist crimes as great achievements.”
Alliances for Peacemaking
Observing that the Internet and social media have become fertile grounds for the recruitment of vulnerable young, the Crown Prince called for the formation of “alliances that can reach out to members of their generation and lead the youth’s public opinion to adopt values of coexistence, respect for diversity and rejection of violence.” It is a lofty and pressing goal.
A Generation at Risk from Extremism
Noting that there are “nearly 73 million jobless, young men and women, and more than 14 million young refugees and displaced persons,” the young Prince declared that the susceptibility to extremism knows no geographic boundaries in a world where so many young people are confronted with joblessness and hopelessness.
Touching on the need to address massive unemployment, the Crown Prince called for investment in the “the capabilities of youth.”
Takeaways from the
Crown Prince’s Talk
- The young are both the primary victims of terrorism and the primary targets of recruitment for terrorism.
- It is because of their “huge potential, self-confidence, and ability to change the world,” that the young are targeted for recruitment by terrorists.
- Terrorism’s enemy is humanity, regardless of religion, gender, age or nationality.
- The war on terror concerns us all.
- “Swift measures” should be taken to “stop feeding the fires of terrorism with the blood of our youth.”
- “Poverty, unemployment, ignorance and weak familial ties create fertile ground for extremist thought.
- More than half of the world’s population is under the age of thirty and the majority is in developing countries.
- Social media must be used to create alliances that promote peace.
Terrorists Tap Twitter and Other
Social Platforms for Recruitment
Tweeting Support of Terrorism?
There was an App for that.
Brookings reported that terrorists even developed a mobile app to send out automated mobile messages to Twitter supporting terrorism. According to Brookings, “At its peak, it sent tens of thousands of tweets per day.”
The report also noted that “ISIS supporters were much more active than the average Twitter user.” Its study identified a group of 1,575 accounts that “tweeted more than 50 times per day on average, with 545 tweeting more than 150 times per day.” According to Brookings, these “prolonged bursts of activity” caused “hashtags to trend, resulting in third-party aggregation and insertion of tweeted content into search results.”
Terrorist Accounts Sometimes
Buy Their “Followers”
Supporters of terrorism aren’t above buying followers. Brookings noted that pro-terrorism accounts tended to have more followers than the average Twitter account and that some of the accounts with larger followers had used spam bots to fill their following.
Hope from a Future King
In the face of extremism and terrorism, a young Crown Prince has managed to provide a vision of hope for “the largest generation of young people in human history,” “where peace, equality, respect, dialogue, coexistence and acceptance of differences are core values.”
To build on the message of youth involvement in peacemaking, the Crown Prince concluded his remarks by announcing that Jordan would be hosting a conference on “The Role of Youth in Making Sustainable Peace,” sometime in August of this year, “aimed at enhancing the capabilities of young peacemakers in confronting extremism and terrorism.” It cannot come too soon.
If we aren’t connected on Twitter, please feel free to join me there: @GlenGilmore
PLEASE NOTE: In March of this year, I had the privilege of touring Jordan with a group of bloggers as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, as a travel blogger, @TravelEsquire. From that experience and an earlier visit to Jordan as a speaker at a tech conference, MENA-ICT, I have come to have a particular fondness for the efforts of the Jordanian leadership and people in promoting peace in the region. A visit to their country will demonstrate that tolerance and mutual respect for diversity have found a home in Jordan. This writer hopes others will follow that great model and the leadership of a future king.
Center For Middle East Policy at Brookings, The ISIS Twitter Census: Defining And Describing The Population Of Supporters On Twitter. Washington, D.C.: March 2015.