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Monday, October 25, 2021

Using social media for evil – bullies of the Gulf

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Prolific tweeter Sultan Al-Qassemi asserts as diplomatically as possible that a new era of McCarthyism is on the rise in Gulf social media.

In a piece published in Gulf News yesterday, the non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government calls out people for engaging in “the primitive act of hurling accusations.”

He also exhorts readers to return to “tolerant debate,” even when the three “untouchables” of God, country and leader enter the fray.

Here are some excerpts:

In the Gulf over the past few weeks, social media has been used as a tool to debate the Arab Spring of 2011 as well as to foster the unprecedented political activism that has emerged in what have been largely politics-deprived societies.

Naturally, there were varying opinions from pundits and observers alike. The Gulf youth have, within a period of a few short weeks, been more politicised and polarised than in the past few decades combined. But some online conversations have clearly been progressing towards a worrying direction, labelling those that social networkers disagree with politically as “traitors”…

There is no single shade that we can use to colour the Gulf. Diversity of opinion is what makes thoughts and ideas in society flourish. It is not possible for us all to share the exact same opinion and, therefore, intelligent and informed debate must take precedence over the primitive act of hurling accusations. These extreme reactions may prove to be a bad omen and even a self-fulfilling prophecy.

They reflect the fact that in the Gulf there is no official channel for debate that is tolerant even when the three ‘untouchables’ of God, Country and Leader are off the topic. This also shows that many Gulf citizens are unable to debate topics that are sensitive and polarising without resorting to personalising the matter…

Read the full piece here. And as always, please let us know what you think!

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