[LINK] Indonesian extremists turn to Twitter to fuel acts of terrorism

David Boxall 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."

David Boxall                    |  Dogs look up to us
                                 |  And cats look down on us
http://david.boxall.id.au       |  But pigs treat us as equals
                                                    --Winston Churchill

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