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Paris Conference Focuses on Fighting Radicalization on the Internet

  • Lisa Bryant

FILE - This screen grab taken from a video released on April 24, 2015 by the Italian police shows a man (L) suspected to be a member of an armed organization inspired by al-Qaida and other radical organizations.

FILE - This screen grab taken from a video released on April 24, 2015 by the Italian police shows a man (L) suspected to be a member of an armed organization inspired by al-Qaida and other radical organizations.

The fight against the so-called Islamic State group and other extremist organizations is not just taking place on the ground, but also in cyberspace. There is no silver bullet to winning the Web war, but this week experts, politicians and youth from around the world are in Paris to talk strategy.

The forum is a two-day meeting taking place at the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The challenge: fighting radicalization and extremism on the Internet. The response? That is not so easy, says conference organizer Boyan Radoykov.

“What we can say right now is that this will be a very long-term problem to deal with. We are facing a problem that we will have to tackle for the next 20 years,” he said.

Many countries are witnessing this problem firsthand. Radical websites are mushrooming on the Web, along with places that offer young people easy pointers on how to tap them.

“There are no simple solutions. These people are facing a huge propaganda and machinery campaign. We are at the heart of a system that is brainwashing young people,” Radoykov said.

The UNESCO conference will look at different responses to Internet radicalization around the world and also the downsides - like concerns over threats to free expression. The speakers include young people from Jordan, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, who will discuss their experiences.

The battle against extremism is taking place inside and outside cyberspace. Some of the answers, are coming from young people returning from jihad.

“By saying, 'Look, this is why I went to do the jihad and to meet these people and this is why I came back.' And this is sometimes even stronger than any Website and any explanation, when you hear it from the heart of the people who lived it,” Radoykov stated.

Ultimately, Radoykov believes the fight against extremism on the net will be won. At the end, he says, reason always wins.

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