Queen Rania Of Jordan Believes Social Media Is The Key To Defeating ISIS

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When you think of royalty and monarchs around the world, you think of an elite group of people who make public appearances for nothing more than publicity and to fulfill their duties. But Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan is different to most modern Royals (sorry Willz and Kate, we love you guys but Rania’s our girl).

She is well known for her advocacy of human rights, health, education, women’s empowerment and economic empowerment. The Queen is also a very active social media user and believes it plays a powerful role in today’s diplomacy. With close to 8 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, she regularly uses these platforms to share all the incredible work she is doing around the world, but it ain’t just for show.

While we don’t normally think of Facebook and Twitter as a method for diplomacy, it is definitely part of an entity that is slowly changing the world. Sometimes we may not even realize the power that lies at the end of our fingertips. If you’ve even written something on social media or shared something that has gotten a huge reaction or attracted polarizing comments, you have had a glimpse of the power of social media.

Now imagine social media being used to change drastic world issues, like terrorism. No it’s not as absurd as you may think. Queen Rania has been speaking with various media and at conferences around the world on how people need to be utilizing technology (just as much as diplomacy) to fight terrorism.

A study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution and Google Ideas showed that ISIS is incredibly successful at spreading its message through social media, especially on Twitter, reported tech website Mashable which also interviewed Her Majesty about the need for the Arab world to start using social media to defeat these extremists.

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ISIS has used social media as a powerful platform to spread their radicalism and have successfully cast a negative view on the Arab world and the Muslim faith. It’s time for the Arab world and those of Muslim beliefs who are not part of an extremist group to start fighting fire with fire, with Facebook.

“This is a group with no conscience, no dignity, no nationality, no religion and no boundaries,” Queen Rania said in reference to the Jordanian pilot who was killed by ISIS recently.

It may seen like a far-fetched idea, but hear her out.

“The fight we have on our hands in the Middle East is as much over narrative as it is over territory. And unfortunately, ISIS has successfully managed to use modern media tools in this fight to propagate their radical beliefs. And it reflects negatively on all of us in the region,” she said.

“Too many people have a single story of the Arab world. We are being defined by a narrow narrative — their narrative — which is dominated by extremism, hatred, conflict, crisis and chaos … We must take back the power to define who we are. Moderates must use social media to show the world that there is more to the Arab world than the extremists would have them believe. Stories of successful entrepreneurs, of tech-savvy youth eager to be part of the global community, of tolerant societies and coexistence, of hopeful loving families… These are the stories that should, actually must, be shared.”

She calls social media the “not so secret weapon in this fight” because all it takes is the majority of everyday citizens raising their voices to eventually become louder, more powerful and more influential than extremist propaganda. So while our privileged selves are paying far too much attention to #thedress and fighting over what color it is, terrorists are apparently having the last laugh knowing their radical beliefs are going largely unchallenged on the very platforms created to build and share community.

Queen Rania says 60% of the Arab world is under 25, and a quarter of them are unemployed which makes them easy prey for terrorists. This report from Vice news shows how these groups recruit from the pool of young men (and now increasingly more women) who have no formal education.

Like education activist Malala Yousafzai has often said in her speeches, education is the key to empowerment and will allow everyone, both young and old, to understand the fundamental difference between right and wrong.

The bottom line is we cannot defeat an extremist ideology with a bullet. We defeat it when we provide youth with a better, and more sustainable, alternative. Jobs. Equality. Participation. Opportunity,” said Queen Rania.

“A modern education that empowers youth to question, debate, and respect diversity and pluralism is critical in building better citizens and more tolerant societies.”

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One of the major issues when it comes to education is that many girls around the world, and especially in the Arab world, are prohibited from getting an education as they are not seen as equals and therefore shouldn’t have the privilege of learning.

According to UNESCO almost 62 million children around the world are currently not enrolled in school, and 53% of that number is girls. Added to that two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women, which leaves them at a greater disadvantage when it comes to their opportunities in life.

Another UNESCO study which focuses on literacy rates in the Arab world ranks Jordan as one of only 6 Arab countries which ranks higher than world average of 76.5%. It has a literacy rate of 85.9% and when you hear how adamant Queen Rania is about this, you can see how her advocacy has had an impact on her countrywomen.

Many powerful men and women who champion the cause of educating children believe that when a girl has tha chance to go to school it can alter the course of her life drastically.

“When you educate a girl you empower a nation. Contrary to popular belief, though, our region has made good progress in bridging the gender gap in education. For example, in Jordan, we have more women in universities than men, and this is the case in several countries across the Arab world. According to some studies, we could almost double economic growth rates if women participated at similar rates as men. Removing the barriers to women’s participation can be a game-changer for the region,” she said.

Education is definitely a foundation that every child in the world deserves. It is a vital component which allows both young men and women to transcend boundaries of poverty and oppression and create sustainable futures for themselves. And in the case of ISIS and other terrorist groups, we couldn’t agree more with Queen Rania that social media should be used more in the Arab world to counter-balance the evil that these religious extremists are trying to spread.

It is as much a battle over narrative as it is territory, beliefs, guns etc. And the narrative starts with education and gets extended exponentially with the power of social media.

Hear more on what she had to say in this interview with Arianna Huffington:

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