MU Director on Female Internet Radicalization at UNESCO Quebec Meet

Why do young people, including girls and women, turn radical and what role does the Internet play in their radicalization?

A question Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil tried to answer in the workshop “Gender Perspectives and the Process of Radicalization” at the UNESCO conference “Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together“ in Quebec, Canada in November 2016.

Abu-Fadil on female Internet radicalization

Abu-Fadil on female Internet radicalization

She referred to research by Lebanese sociologist Mona Fayyad who said high crime rates in crowded urban areas, notably poverty belts surrounding major cities, often go undetected by social monitoring and supervision, leading to an increased possibility of crimes and violence alongside a collapse of traditional structures.

Fayyad focused on Syrian refugees and migrants in Lebanon and their exposure to untold horrors and injustices possibly leading to deviant behavior. Lebanon hosts upwards of 1.5 million Syrian refugees and migrants who escaped the war in their country, depending on whose figures one believes.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon may add to security threat

Syrian refugees in Lebanon may add to security threat

According to women experts on a BBC Arabic TV show, many of the recruits fighting in Arab countries come from abroad. While home grown female jihadists in Iraq exist, for example, many others hail from Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Europe and Russia.

One researcher said women recruits exhibited character weakness, a proclivity to violence, a need for escape (from their reality), and were in search of alternatives.

Sadly, authorities in many countries treat the symptom, not the cause, of radicalization, Abu-Fadil said.

What draws women and girls to extremist organizations? Females join ISIS ranks to follow boyfriends, husbands, siblings or other family members.

Female jihadists duped

Female jihadists duped

In most cases, it’s under the false pretense of a better, holier and more exciting life. To their horror, they discover it’s all a hoax.

Among the non-Muslim-majority countries, Russia, France, and Germany supply the largest numbers of ISIS’ foreign workforce, a World Bank study said.

Recommendations on tackling female radicalization

Recommendations on tackling female radicalization

A writeup of Abu-Fadil’s presentation is available here.

The Middle East in Transition: What Future for Arab Youth?

Arab Youth are more concerned about fair pay, home ownership and a decent life than democracy, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told students at Sciences Po – Menton in the south of France.

The rising cost of living was a major concern although the lack of democracy and civil unrest were also seen as obstacles to progress, she said quoting the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012 that analyzed data from 12 countries.

The study also revealed that while a majority of young people agreed traditional values were paramount, an increasing number of them said such values were outdated and should be replaced.

Magda Abu-Fadil on Arab youth prospects with Sciences Po-Menton director Bernard El-Ghoul and students

Creating jobs for a growing Arab youth population is a major challenge for decision makers following the outbreak of revolutions in a number of the region’s countries.

Demographic issues such as high population growth and pressures on labor markets compound the problem, Abu-Fadil said.

She also discussed young people’s contribution to revolutions gripping the Arab world and what prompted them to take to the streets.

The role social media played in the various uprisings was another topic of discussion, with Abu-Fadil explaining that such tools were not the ultimate influencers in these movements given the high rate of illiteracy and uneven access to the Internet.

Although prospects may appear dim, education reform could be an answer, with emphasis on critical thinking and the revisiting of school and university curricula to meet employers’ requirements.

The discussion in January 2013 was part of a week-long orientation program at the Middle East/Mediterranean campus of Sciences Po aimed at familiarizing students with the university’s undergraduate and graduate studies, life in the Middle East, and exchange programs available to them.

 

Abu-Fadil Dissects Media Accountability in Lebanon

How much media accountability is there in Lebanon? Are media accountable and do they hold officials accountable?

It’s a double-edged sword that cuts both ways, said Media Unlimited Director Magda Abu-Fadil, adding that laws and codes of ethics are not implemented, loosely implemented, or totally ignored, depending on the issue at stake, politics involved, and persons influencing them.

Magda Abu-Fadil on media accountability in Lebanon

She dissected Lebanon’s antiquated print and broadcast media laws that require major overhaul.

In a presentation on accountability at a forum organized by Media Act in Toulouse, France, Abu-Fadil pointed to Lebanese legislator Ghassan Moukheiber’s Media Reform Bill aimed at shrinking the existing 109 provisions of the 1962 print law to 75.

According to Moukheiber, almost 80% of his draft bill’s provisions have been approved in the parliamentary committee discussing the matter.

Another draft bill on broadcast media put forward by Moukheiber would see the strengthening of the National Audio-Visual Media Council as a regulatory body.

Lebanese legislator Ghassan Moukheiber

It’s currently a toothless tiger of elected and appointed members along sectarian lines.

A very important draft bill on access to information has also passed the test, but all three bills have yet to be voted into law.

Abu-Fadil reviewed media-related events in 2012 and Lebanese print and broadcast journalists’ efforts to establish a stronger union presence.

She also discussed press freedom monitoring efforts by various local and international organizations, attempts to muzzle the media and whether Lebanon was immune to the “Arab Spring.”

The Media Act forum in January 2013 entitled “Media Accountability in Transition: Insights from the Arab World” was organized jointly by the German Erich-Brost-Institut at Dortmund University, the French Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Toulouse, and Paris II University.

Profs. Olivier Baisnée of IEP Toulouse and Judith Pies of Dortmund University

It grouped experts from Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Poland, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon who reviewed potentials for media accountability in Jordan and Tunisia as well prospects in Egypt and Morocco.