The IBBlog

Updated: Jul 30

Expansion of initiative against COVID-19 disinformation now provides humanitarian aid to areas facing exploitation by extremist organizations.


New York, NY, Apr 29, 2020 -- Ideas Beyond Borders (IBB), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to education and empowerment initiatives in the Middle East, is expanding their campaign to combat disinformation among Arabic-speaking youth to include a significant humanitarian outreach effort. This effort includes working with local distribution partners to deliver 20,000 N95 masks to public hospitals facing dire PPE shortages, as well as 120,000 surgical masks and more than 300,000 meals to communities in need.


Humanitarian efforts are focused on communities plagued by sectarian violence, lack of access to education, and poverty. These conditions exacerbate pandemic outcomes and leave populations more vulnerable to believing targeted disinformation.


“The COVID-19 pandemic is being exploited by extremists and authoritarians alike, both digitally and offline. I’ve seen it before when my own community was taken over by extremist groups; they hand out blankets, they give water bottles on severely hot days in Baghdad, and in the case of COVID-19, they hand out masks and food to build trust. When the pandemic is over, that’s what people remember, and it makes them even more vulnerable to believing extremist ideas. Ideas Beyond Borders is beating extremists to it. We’re handing out food and masks simply because it’s the right thing to do, and we ask nothing in return,” says IBB founder Faisal Saeed Al Mutar.


The Stop the Spread campaign combats misinformation and dispels conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 and provides accurate public health information from trusted sources. It launched in early March to IBB’s network of over 4.5 million MENA-region youth, and includes dozens of videos, infographics, and articles on the virus. The recent campaign expansion also expands these efforts, including translation of mental health resources, as well as a significant increase in video production.


About Ideas Beyond Borders

A 501(c)3 organization dedicated to fostering an Enlightened Middle East

Ideas Beyond Borders champions a positive alternative to the extremism, authoritarianism, censorship, and violence that plagues the Middle East. We share, translate, and promote ideas that foster critical thinking, civil and human rights, science, pluralism, and more. IBB wants to ultimately bring to life a modern, pluralistic Middle East, led by the people of the region.


Additional Resources

Coronavirus: the student translators battling Middle East misinformation | April 29th, 2020 | The National

By translating Wikipedia pages into Arabic, he offers access, hope | February 5th, 2020 | CSM

COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing No. 1 | March 27th, 2020 | ISD


Contact Information

Lisa Pirovano, Communications Director at Ideas Beyond Borders

lisa.pirovano@ideasbeyondborders.org


New campaign seeks to stop the spread of disinformation on the virus and empower youth to share accurate COVID-19 information with communities.

New York, NY, Apr 14, 2020 -- Ideas Beyond Borders, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to education and empowerment initiatives in the Middle East, announced their latest campaign, "Stop the Spread", to combat disinformation among Arabic-speaking youth. This campaign dispels conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 and provides accurate public health information from trusted sources. It launched in early March to their network of over 4.5 million MENA-region youth.



“Where I’m from in Iraq, if you get sick, you might feel uncomfortable telling others because you’ve been told only the guilty and sinful will get sick with COVID-19. You’re afraid of the social backlash, so you don’t get treatment, putting yourselves and others at risk. It’s horrific. Arabic-speaking youth need accurate information on COVID-19. IBB already combats disinformation via our translation program, so using our platform of millions to help stop the spread of these rumors seemed like a no-brainer,” says Ideas Beyond Borders’ Founder and Executive Director, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar.


Conspiracies on the virus have been liked and shared millions of times and include extremist and state-sponsored ideas such as: Jewish people created the virus to manipulate the market; the virus was created in a US laboratory by the CIA; and the virus is a scourge sent to punish the LGBT community and their supporters. To combat this misinformation, IBB is partnering with public health experts and local social influencers to publish and ‘make viral’ more than 30 videos, 220 articles, and 40 infographics in Arabic on COVID-19. IBB is scaling this initiative rapidly in the next hypercritical 90 days, and is urgently seeking funding and additional partners.


About Ideas Beyond Borders

A 501(c)3 organization dedicated to fostering an Enlightened Middle East

Ideas Beyond Borders champions a positive alternative to the extremism, authoritarianism, censorship, and violence that plagues the Middle East. We share, translate, and promote ideas that foster critical thinking, civil and human rights, science, pluralism, and more. IBB wants to ultimately bring to life a modern, pluralistic Middle East, led by the people of the region.


Additional Resources

COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing No. 1 | March 27th, 2020 | ISD

Coronavirus: the student translators battling Middle East misinformation | April 29th, 2020 | The National

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2020/0205/This-man-brings-hope-to-Arab-youth-one-Wikipedia-page-at-a-time



This month, IBB is celebrating women across Persia, the Middle East, and North Africa that are bravely sharing their stories about life under extremist rule in the hopes of making their region safer, better, and more inclusive and diverse for everyone. Check out their stories and articles below. 


NAHID FATTAHI

I Was an Afghan Child Bride


"Overnight, I was turned from 14 to 19."

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LAYLA (Not Pictured)

An ISIS Survivor That Holds Onto the Names of Her Captors


"A Yazidi woman escaped ISIS in Syria and keeps in her purse the names of the fighters who enslaved and assaulted her."


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The Brave Women Working to De-mine Post-ISIS Territories

Women After War: We Want to Rebuild Our Lives

"Two years after ISIL ceded territory in Iraq, these courageous women are clearing mines on their journey back home."


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These women are empowering others who have suffered sexual abuse and violence, devastating loss, and violent horror at the hands of extremist groups, and are using their voices to uplift a region.


Young adults in our target areas have similar stories to the brave women you've read about; they have grown up under ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or similar regimes and are accustomed to acts of violence, threats, and aggression faced by those under extremist rule. Information on human rights, women's rights, and democratic movements and institutions is inaccessible and often wholly unavailable due to active censorship and oppression. Unlocking access to these ideas and making them available for discussion is a prerequisite to building equality and lasting peace in the region.


We've launched partnerships with local universities to create on-the-ground programs to rebuild Post-ISIS territories. These programs empower families and young adults devastated in the aftermath of war and terrorism. At each partner university, we're enrolling 30 students a year into our Bayt Al Hikma 2.0 translation program to translate, discuss, and spread the values of pluralism and enlightenment. In exchange for their efforts, program participants receive a small stipend for the school year, the mentorship of a program coordinator, help with resumes and cover letters for economic empowerment, and official certification as a translator for our program.




We aim for equal representation of genders in our university program participants, and are eager to help young women work towards a better, brighter future for their region.


Donate today and help Ideas Beyond Borders empower young women across the Middle East.

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