Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 15:21 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 15:21 | SYDNEY

E-diplomacy and extremists


Fergus Hanson


2 February 2011 14:40

One of the innovations covered in the policy brief I launched last November on e-diplomacy is the use of bloggers by the US, UK and Canadian foreign ministries. The US State Department maintains nine full-time Arabic-language bloggers, two Farsi bloggers and two Urdu bloggers, while the Pentagon also maintains a team of bloggers. The UK's  Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintains two full-time Farsi language bloggers.

This makes a lot of sense, given that the web is widely regarded as one of the tools aiding the radicalisation of the terrorists that these and other governments spend huge amounts of blood and money combating.

Australia, along with many other governments, is yet to see the merit in entering this space. But as this NY Times article highlights, things are starting to change, with governments no longer willing to cede this space, unchallenged, to extremists. Here's an excerpt:

In the Netherlands, the jailhouse recantation of a convicted terrorist renouncing violence has circulated online. Counterterrorism officials say it could make disaffected youth think twice about joining violent extremist ranks.

In Pakistan, the authorities are posting onYouTube gruesome videos of mosques bombed by Islamic extremists, to show that such attacks kill fellow Muslims.

And here in Saudi Arabia, a government-supported program has enlisted hundreds of Islamic scholars turned bloggers to fight online radicalization by challenging the interpretations of the Koran posted on extremist social networking forums.

Follow Fergus on Twitter @FergusHanson.