Social Media and Cyber-Jihad In Pakistan
The Internet and social media are part of today’s battlefield between the forces of liberalism and those of extremism, at least in Pakistan. Both forces are jostling for using—and controlling—the Internet and social media to make themselves heard and silence the opposition. This paper looks into how extremist forces appropriate the Internet and social media to get their message out, sway public opinion in their favor and seek new recruits. It also examines the potentials of social media for civic activism in Pakistan and how the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan’s constitution stifles liberal voices on the Internet and social media. This paper discusses the concept of blasphemy in Islam, their incorporation in the legal system of Pakistan and their impact on the freedom of expression. This paper concludes that an effective use of social media is contingent on at least three things: 1) Literacy 2) access to the Internet and social media tools and 3) media laws and policies that guarantee freedom of expression and access to information. These are essential for the creation of a vibrant public sphere, which can then be strengthened by using social media as a long-term tool. Without freedom of expression, liberal forces cannot make full use of social media for promoting democracy and rights of minority groups.
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