[LINK] Indonesian extremists turn to Twitter to fuel acts of terrorism
david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Mon Oct 3 16:27:17 AEDT 2011
Pros & cons, I guess.
October 3, 2011
Social media is being used to spread falsehoods in an instant, writes
Herald correspondent Tom Allard in Jakarta.
IN THE aftermath of an Islamist suicide bombing of a church in the
Central Java city of Solo last week, messages flew around the social
networking site Twitter urging followers to go to an extremist website.
There, on the news page of arrahmah.com was an article condemning the
President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for his strong and quickly
delivered words against the violent act, contrasting it unfavourably to
a supposedlyweak response to the alleged attacks on Muslims by
Christians in Ambon.
It continued with a litany of falsehoods, including claims that a
village had been burnt down and that thousands of Muslims remained in
mosques in Ambon – an island in Maluku in the country's east – seeking
refuge from the crusader hordes.
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In two days about 20,000 people had retweeted the message. It was the
latest in a series of highly inflammatory tweets, SMS and Facebook
postings that are sowing the seeds of disharmony and promoting terrorism
in Indonesia, a sprawling multi-religious and ethnically diverse nation
that is no stranger to communal violence and acts of terrorism. In a
country where smartphone penetration is rapidly expanding and access to
social media networks costs about $US5 a month, Indonesians are among
the most prolific tweeters, accounting for 15 per cent of global volume.
They are also the second largest users of Facebook, behind the US.
"A huge amount of fundamentalist communications comes through Facebook
and Twitter," a parliamentarian, Muhammad Najib, said at seminar last
week. "This is a new generation, all holding a mobile phone."
Last month there were two examples of social media and SMS spreading
On September 11, a riot broke out in Ambon, where the number of
Christians and Muslims is evenly balanced.
Seven people died and scores of homes and vehicles were damaged after
rumours spread by SMS, Twitter and Facebook that a Muslim motorcycle
taxi driver had been captured and tortured to death by Christians. The
man died in a traffic accident.
Three days later, in Makassar, a city in South Sulawesi, a mentally ill
Christian man went on a rampage with a knife.
Three people died before police were able to subdue the man but, within
hours, SMS and Twitter messages were bouncing around the city warning of
co-ordinated Christian attacks on Muslims.
Hundreds of Muslims mobilised and marched down a main street stopping
vehicles and interrogating drivers about their religious orientation and
their purpose for travelling.
Two Christian men were stabbed in retaliation and more than 1000 people
fled to a police school to seek refuge from Christian attacks that never
Amid a tepid response by authorities to the phenomena, civil society
groups such as the Provocateurs for Peace in Ambon, a multi-religious
group led by Pastor Jacky Manuputty, have started using social media and
SMS to counter the continuing allegations and rumours trying to stir up
trouble in Ambon.
"We know how powerful this social media can be and how it can help our
movement fight back," he said. "The authorities and police here need to
do better. There is no centralised place to co-ordinate [combating the
rumours] so we just do it ourselves. We could not wait for the government."
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