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Photo: wackystuff (flickr); Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Our editor Isabell Wutz points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the underrated danger of social media in times of terrorisms, how different languages change personalities, and how a young Chinese swimmer reminds everyone what the Olympic Games really are about. 

Isabell, Sixth Sense and Legs editor

isabell

 The underrated danger of social media news in times of terrorims

Almost two months ago an 18year-old man shot several people at a Munich shopping mall. Not long after the news spread, my phone started buzzing with several texts from friends and family living in the city assuring me of their safety. At this point little was known about the incident but the rumour mill was already in overdrive. It was then a friend messaged me, asking if my family was alright concluding with the sentence: “I would have guessed that it catches Berlin or Cologne first…crazy times”. Here I realized how dangerous unfiltered information and speculation can be, especially on publicly accessible social media channels. Interpreting events on the grounds of only a few confirmed facts and much uncertain information can lead us to premature conclusions and as seen in the case of Munich, fear, panic and false accusations. Particularly, in these, well-described, “crazy times”, people tend to quickly condemn situations without having the required knowledge, and thereby we contribute to creating and spreading potentially false narratives online for everyone to see and believe. 

Published in Good Reads

 

Where were youparis attacks
Photo: Jorbasa Fotografie (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

One year ago on the 13th of November 2015 Paris and the whole world was disaster-struck. Today we want to remember this terrifying incident and its 129 victims by sharing our stories of how we learned about the attacks and how we experienced the night and days afterwards. Regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity or age everyone was affected by the terroristic events one way or another and everyone has a unique memory of that day that should be heard. We believe that despite the horros our solidarity, strength and togetherness should not vanish into oblivion but instead be remembered and shared to overcome hate, stereotypes and extremism.  

Published in Sixth Sense
Gay to Jihad
Photo: Surian Soosay(Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Join E&M for a discussion on radicalization in Europe as we try to figure out whether terrorists are evil by design and look at the factors and circumstances that turn personal stories into the next episode of “final destination”.

Looking at footage of terrorist mayhem is no picnic. Images of damage caused to human beings, like the ones from two weeks ago in Brussels, look all too overwhelming. Reactions in such cases tend to be no less intense: without knowing it we, peace-loving Europeans, might even go as low as to briefly align with radical agendas ourselves and want the motherfuckers burned.

Published in Sixth Sense
Saturday, 14 November 2015 18:58

A dark day for France and for Europe

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Photo: Barbara Urruspil (Flickr); Licence: Public Domain Mark 1.0

What happened last night was, as President Hollande put it in an emotional address to the nation, "une horreur". Our sincerest condolences go out to all those affected.

As the facts become clearer and we try to comprehend the who, the what, the why and the how, it is important to try and remain calm.

Nationalist groups across Europe are already using these terrible attacks as a political tool to whip up support for their cause. In particular, the link has been made between the ongoing refugee situation and the atrocities in the French capital. This is dangerously false – these are quite clearly the kind of violent thugs that people are so desperate to escape from.

The values that E&M stands for – tolerance, multiculturalism, fun – are under threat from both the terrorists behind these attacks and those promoting divisive solutions that only take us backwards. We must stand firm and stick to our ideals.

On an evening which risks tearing Europe apart, E&M prefers to take solace in the magnificent show of solidarity across the continent and beyond. There is much more that we share than which divides us. Let's remember that.

Another week has passed and it's time for us to provide you with another Good Reads post. This time round E&M's Veronica Pozzi is taking up the challenge and shares articles that got her thinking about how IS uses social media and how this particular battle is fought in Berlin. Her final pick is about sexual and religious identity in Europe.

 

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Veronica, Sixth Sense

 

ISIS: When the recruitment starts on SoundCloud

 

In a period in which the Islamic State (IS) appears on the front pages of newspapers across different European states, it is somehow frustrating to note the lack of good journalism on the topic. Despite the huge media attention that IS gets, and also in the light of recent events in France and Syria, it seems that there is a general lack of original stories, a lack of journalists who do not only work with press agencies but who have actually been "out and about" and can provide some essential shoe-leather reporting.

 

That is why I was so happy when I stumbled across this article co-written by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet for The Washington Post. Set in an immigrant neighborhood in south Berlin, the story revolves around a liberal mosque that, for years, has been a progressive and tolerant place where battered Muslim women could seek help in divorcing. But now a further problem claims the mosque's attention: IS and its recruitment of young, European Muslims.

 

Starting around the time that the infamous Denis Cuspert, a Berlin based rapper who started to spread radical views via his songs three years ago before going to fight in Syria, came to prominence, the recruitment process of new Muslim fighters for the IS is now run online. This article by The Local focuses on SoundCloud's jihadi accounts asking young Muslims to go and fight in Syria using the power of music and it connects this trend with Germany's law and efforts to oppose the IS. But this is just an example of how IS uses social media and Internet to spread its radicalism: this recent article posted by BuzzFeed (yes, they do also serious and investigative journalism) focuses on how IS is currently threating Twitter founder and employees after their decision to block several pro-jihad accounts. 

 

Published in Good Reads

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden, various clever (and not so clever) analysts have pointed to the increased threat of retaliation by al Qaeda fighters against Europe and the United States. Despite appearing like a sound conclusion, however, the threat of terrorism is – and likely remains – marginal. 

It is true that only last week three terrorism suspects, allegedly with a mission from a "senior al Qaeda leader", were arrested in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine Westphalia in Germany. Abdeladin K., the 29-year old Moroccan head of the group travelled to an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in early 2010 where, according to German investigators, he received training and instructions for launching an attack in Germany. Not only does this show that al Qaeda is still maintaining training camps in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, but this incident highlights their continued operational effectiveness. So All things Counterterrorism’s Leah Farell tweeted:

It seems AQ’s pak based EO [external operations] infrastructure is pretty robust & they are sticking v much to template.

In fact, bin Laden's death may have acted as a trigger event for the Düsseldorf cell to speed up their plans. The raid might therefore have been just in time.

Published in Beyond Europe
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