“In this dire situation...the need is for people who are going to be truth tellers, the need is for people who are going to be strong and tough. I think that IBB plays this role—a responsible, smart, non-partisan player." — Ambassador Alberto Fernandez
Ideas Beyond Borders hosted “Winning the War on Disinformation in the Middle East,” an online event with special guest Ambassador Alberto Fernandez on November 17, 2020. IBB’s Founder and President Faisal Saeed al Mutar provided a program update, and IBB translators and Middle East Team Lead Ahmed AlRayyis also shared their stories.
Ambassador Fernandez explained the landscape of disinformation, and how it is spreading more quickly through the Middle East than ever before via social media, most recently on the topic of COVID-19. There are both familiar and new disinformation actors in the landscape. Russia and Iran are the usual players, while China, a new and neutrally viewed actor, is rapidly growing in prominence.
Fernandez said it is crucial to understand and address disinformation in the Middle East because “our world is interconnected—we can’t set aside what is happening in other parts of the world.”
IBB’s translators and Middle East Team Lead Ahmed AlRayyis shared regional perspectives from Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey, and stressed the need to combat disinformation in the region. Issam Fawaz, one of IBB's translators, shared that "the Bayt Al Hikma 2 project gives me hope. It also offers the weapon that [local political and religious leaders] fear the most, truth as it is...this is our only path forward" to emphasize this point.
All agreed that IBB is a powerful tool for internet users in the Middle East to fight disinformation, and it needs to grow and expand to continue this crucial work. When young people have access to truth and knowledge, communities flourish.
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