Flanders requests theologians counter online propaganda

Flanders requests theologians counter online propaganda
Liesbeth Homans has secured a budget of €438,000 for the project aimed at countering extremist messages.© Belga

The Flemish Minister for the Interior, Liesbeth Homans (New Flemish Alliance ), has begun a collaborative project with the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). This aims to fight the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) on its own ground. Theologians from the university are to disseminate messages, based upon the Koran, so as to contradict the extremist propaganda dissseminated online. This is reported in De Morgen on Thursday.

Liesbeth Homans stresses, “The extremist views are very powerful and at the moment those with the alternative opinion are doing too little to be heard.” She explains that consequently she has decided to focus the fight “upon challenging and weakening these extremist messages, by encouraging ‘counter-social discourses’ or ‘counter-narratives.’” She adds that she has secured a budget of €438,000 for this project.

The Flemish minister has called upon theologians from KU Leuven, who will now disseminate these counter-narratives. This idea is not new. As far back as 2010, the American authorities tried to fight against jihadist propaganda, through channels such as Twitter. However, Time magazine assesses that between 2013 and 2015, IS messages had 99 times the impact than those of the authorities. However, Ms Homans is convinced that this approach can work.

The Brussels Times

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