ISIS recruiting young and educated minds (cutting across the class and wealth biases) into their organization is a dangerous trend. So thinking that only people who are poor, deprived and therefore vulnerable are being brainwashed is wrong.
With the rise in terror attacks across borders, and the growing dread of the influence of ISIS on young minds, the world is increasingly becoming a polarized place. On the opposite side, people or countries opposing the ISIS are associating them with an entire religion and aggravating the radicalization.
Not just political parties are using terror attacks to their advantage but the fourth estate is in a sorry state too. Political favouritism, pseudo-nationalism and hyperbolic arguments instead of nuanced discussions or difference of opinions, formulate the rule book of Journalism now.
The media tends to follow a very biased point of view and busy in picking a scapegoat to give out hasty solutions.
Spreading hate will get nothing our way.
If ISIS is putting up videos and posts to influence young minds with their corrupted ideology, then what is the rest of the world doing to counter that? Not like we do not have the technology or the resources to counter them.
But there is definitely a lack of political will as they are more indulged in taking potshots at their political opponents to serve petty political agendas rather than standing united against terror attacks. This will create and widen cracks among different communities and it is exactly these loopholes that terrorist organizations take advantage of.
There is immense political pressure on the media to appear patriotic. But it should be kept in mind that to counter a force like ISIS, jingoism can never serve the purpose. Rather it creates a different set of monsters just advocating a different ideology, but their modus operandi is equally irrational and dangerous.
A fire cannot be put off by lighting another fire.
Come to think of it, what are these two institutions doing to counter such negative influences? They appear after a terror attack has already taken place. I believe, it is a part of their duty as citizens of a country who have been entrusted with a certain responsibility to sensitize people about the ills of treading on the route to extremism.
Measures That Can Be Taken
For instance, there are advertisements by the Government about social evils that need to be eradicated, or sometimes different news mediums (TV, print and especially new media) run campaigns that create awareness and encourage people to join in.
Such initiatives need to be encouraged in the realm of terrorism as well and spread far and wide to demonstrate the detrimental effects of falling prey to such radicalism, the stories of the innocent victims of these terror attacks and what can be the consequences for them and the society at large if they are radicalized.
An effective measure can be that the local police conduct awareness programmes that teach people what to do in instances of terror attacks. Such workshops can also be conducted in schools and students can be sensitized and trained.
For instance, Hyderabad police caught four engineering students in Kolkata and brought them back to Hyderabad. They were apparently trying to cross over to Dhaka and then travel to Iraq to allegedly join the Islamic State. The students weren’t arrested but were let off after counselling and a warning. The students allegedly gave information on 11 others who had been influenced on social media.
Social media activities can be tracked. Investigators can enter chat-rooms anonymously and get information.
People can be encouraged to read religious texts on their own, or reliable experts be entrusted with the responsibility of countering the deceptive methods and teachings of ISIS and relaying the correct versions. The reason being that lack of knowledge of the religious texts tends to be a reason sometimes for people to be manipulated easily.
Social media can be a highly useful force in such initiatives.
Rather than the hate mongering amongst each other on social media, there can be noble initiatives that keep the harmony intact and with time build a force, both nationally and worldwide, to counter extremism.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.