BIRN BiH Denis Dzidic took part in a panel discussion entitled ‘Countering violent extremism online and protection of the right to freedom of speech’ on Friday at the Sarajevo Bristol Hotel, as part of the second annual Bosnian Forum on Internet Management.
The panelists discussed terrorist propaganda and threat of social media being used to radicalise young people.
Dzidic said that it is vital for media, when reporting on violent extremism, to be wary of sensationalism, but also added that state institutions should be more open towards journalists.
“What we are seeing in Bosnia today is that the system is confusing and the way they communicate with journalists is also confusing, so whenever an incident happens, you have on one side institutions that do not want to give any information and even when they do, often different levels give different statements, which leads to sensational headlines,” he said.
Mario Janacek from the Security Ministry said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was looking for a systematic solution for preventing abuse of the internet for terrorist purposes or any other types of propaganda and hate speech.
Janacek said that terrorists had moved ahead in terms of using internet platforms, adding that they invested in marketing more than individual corporations.
“What we currently see in European practices is not promising. It does not look like it might offer any results in terms of removing such material from the internet. It is mainly focused on a certain type of censorship. According to practices applied in most of the countries, such materials are removed without too much thinking about the consequences. In some European countries, police block such content even without court warrants, so we are also considering such possibilities,” Janacek said.
Analyst and theologian Muhamed Jusic spoke about violent extremism justified by religion, primarily the practice of the so-called Islamic State, as well as giving an analysis of content published and quickly spread on social networks.
“The internet is not a key factor in radicalisation, which has to go through personal contacts and happen inside smaller circles. There must be someone whom you trust when you speak to them. However, the internet has a great importance in reinforcing those stances and additionally persuading yourself that what someone told you during a closed meeting was true,” Jusic said.
The participants at the panel discussion also discussed projects aimed at creating positive narratives via the network of ‘Super Citizens’, who are fighting against hate speech, as well as the role of the media in reporting on radicalisation and terrorism.