Queen Rania of Jordan warns Isis is 'hijacking' social media and dragging Arab world 'back into the dark ages'

Queen warns extremists are using social media to 'rewrite our narrative'

Heather Saul
Thursday 20 November 2014 15:45
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Jordan's Queen Rania (R) walking alongside Twofour54 Chief Executive Officer Noura al-Kaabi, as they arrive for the opening session of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit
Jordan's Queen Rania (R) walking alongside Twofour54 Chief Executive Officer Noura al-Kaabi, as they arrive for the opening session of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit

Queen Rania of Jordan has warned Isis is trying to “hijack” the Arab world and “drag it back to the Dark Ages” via social media during a powerful address in Abu Dhabi.

Queen Rania used her opening speech at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit on Tuesday to condemn the atrocities committed by the group across swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Isis militants have capitalised on social media as a way of constantly spreading propaganda, recruiting fighters to join its self-declared ‘caliphate’ and distributing horrifying videos showing brutal executions and beheadings.

The group most recently uploaded the beheading of US aid worker Peter Kassig and 17 Syrian servicemen on YouTube, from which images were rapidly circulated across Twitter and Facebook.

She urged the audience to harness the same tools used by Isis to spread its agenda and use them to push forward a more progressive one from the Arab world.

“A minority of extremists are using social media to rewrite our narrative and hijack our identity,' she told the conference. “That's what Isis is doing to the Arab world and all of us.”

Referring to videos showing beheadings of Western hostages and Syrian servicemen, the Jordanian Queen told the conference: “These images don't represent me anymore than they represent you.

“They’re alien and abhorrent to the vast majority of Arabs – Muslims and Christians. And they should make every Arab across this region seethe.

“They are an attack on our values as a people and on our collective story. This is their version of the Arab world’s story, their plot, their narrative, their heroes, and the rest of the world is listening and watching.”

Bullets alone would not be enough to defeat Isis because of the ideology at the heart of the group’s assaults, she added. The region must also invest in "quality education for all" in order to prevent the kind of "ignorance" that leads to young people being radicalised.

“Think of what happened when Osama Bin Laden was killed,” the Queen said. “Sure he died, but his legacy is an even stronger, more twisted extremist movement.”

“We must create a new narrative and broadcast it to the world. Because if we don’t decide what our identity is and what our legacy will be the extremists will do it for us.”

By remaining silent moderate Arabs becomes complicit in Isis success, she warned.

“We – the moderate majority – are equally to blame. They say “a story is told as much by silence as by speech”. Well, our silence speaks volumes.

“We can spend our lives letting others dictate our narrative, and cast ourselves as victims. Or we can realize the truth: that we are the creators of our own story”.

“We either develop our region, or we let others dismantle it; find solutions to the challenges, or watch the challenges avalanche; harness the tools to drive the Arab world forward in the 21st century, or let others use those tools to drag us back to the dark ages.”

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