Position Paper: Strategies for Promoting Free Thought in Social Media in the Arab World Issued by the Arab Youth Alliance for Freedom and Democracy

 Position Paper: Strategies for Promoting Free Thought in Social Media in the Arab World Issued by the Arab Youth Alliance for Freedom and Democracy

The free thought seeks to create wide spaces of mind equally with its concern for the other side of the human self, the aspect of spirituality, by emphasizing that the importance of individual spirituality is the establishment of an individual belief that his goal in life is to be beneficial to himself, his family and all those around him, and to build his modernist society based on equality, acceptance of the other, the rule of law and the preservation of freedoms.

Freedom of opinion and expression and the array of rights associated with it, constitute a fundamental human right, as it is one of the enabling rights its respect and enforcement are linked to the protection of a wide range of other human rights. Moreover it is the only way to combat corruption in its various forms. It is the tool by which general performance can be corrected and the public can have access to information related to all aspects of their lives.

The principle of complementarity and indivisibility of human rights finds its creative embodiment in the close relationship between the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom to access and disseminate information and other human rights, such as the right to live, education and housing, and not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture or other cruel and degrading treatment, etc.

The importance of freedom of expression, opinion and access to and dissemination of information from the last decade of the twentieth century until now has been enhanced by the tremendous development of human media, such as the popularity of smart phones and the spread out of Internet services that are accessible to all, in addition to the large increase in the number of satellite television channels covering the globe. It is becoming increasingly difficult for states to isolate themselves, and it is easy to find out what is going on anywhere in the world, tens of thousands of miles away from us.

The smart devices like telephones have contributed to the creation of social media, which is beyond the observation and control of states, and offers facilities beyond the influence and spread that are available to the traditional media, Where it allowed each person his own platform and the freedom through which to disseminate information and express his opinion freely to events and incidents.

Therefore, the Arab Youth Union for Freedom and Democracy (AYUFD) considers that freedom of opinion and expression forms the solid basis for the media to become a fourth authority, which monitors the work and performance of the other three authorities and reveals flaw and weakness in performance, whether related to corruption or autocracy.

The AYUFD emphasizes that freedom of expression is one of the most important pillars of fundamental rights and liberty, and the impetus for free thought, moreover, there are a number of other rights that are closely linked to freedom of expression as a basic to ensure more practices of other rights, as mirror of public rights and freedoms, and the spirit of democracy. It is an expression of democratic citizenship. It is also a measure of how democratic the political system is, and an essential impetus for establishing the rule of law, and a real indicator that reflects the political will to guarantee public freedoms in a manner consistent with international human rights standards.

Freedom of expression is the necessary element to reach modern society, and thus constitutes a necessary condition and the basis of all freedoms without which no human being can practice freedom that is based on the realization of human self through expression and opinion based on thinking, imagination, creativity and conscious conscience, as well as its contribute to the achievement of good governance and strengthen its foundations, primarily transparency, accountability, accountability and oversight. Freedom of expression also contributes effectively to promoting the values of tolerance, equality and dialogue in society, which can only be provided within the framework of freedom of opinion, expression and the press.

Therefore, the AYUFD believes that spreads out and promotes free thought requires firstly legislative measures that would provide legal protection that limits the ability of governments and various authorities to suppress dissenting opinions while at the same time setting a set of criteria that prevent freedom from becoming an antithesis, rather than as a means of correction, development and promotion, is a means of spreading hatred, hatred and incitement to violence.

In addition to other institutions supporting human rights in the Arab world, the AYUFD highlights the importance of exerting a great effort to aware youth, especially those who use social media and bloggers with the law determinations because awareness of the law is their first firewall, beside respecting and applying the principle of the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers.

Therefore, in light of the events in some Arab countries from time to time, there are increasing infringements against freedom of opinion and expression in various forms, in violation of international laws and conventions, including prosecutions of citizens on the basis of their expression on the means of social communication, including the trial of youth and arraigning and interrogating them, and even arresting dozens on opinion basis. Thus, the AYUFD publishes this paper that reflects the protection guaranteed by international human rights law, which provides for the right to freedom of opinion and expression, especially in light of the call by some that liberal values in the Arab context carry the wrong concepts on the grounds that they are Western, and the confusion of liberal ideas and Western culture that rejects the mantle of reservation, with the belief that liberalism was created to be against religion in light of the economic, social and political conditions experienced by citizens in the Arab street. The AYUFD adopts the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly in addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration on the Basic Principles on the Contribution of the Media to Support Peace and International Understanding, the Promotion of Human Rights, the Fight against Racism, Apartheid and Incitement to War, Which affirms that freedom of information is the standard by which all freedoms are measured, and that one of the indispensable elements of freedom of social media is the will and the ability not to misuse it, In promoting international understanding and cooperation, in the service of peace and human well-being, and against pro-war propaganda, apartheid and hatred among nations.

Therefore, the Arab Youth AYUFD for Freedom and Democracy emphasizes that the promotion of free thinking, especially freedoms and respect for the law, will enhance civil peace and social stability and miss the opportunity for those who seek to destabilize societies and that will enhance the citizen's sense of dignity and eligibility and to devote freedom as one of the society’s values which is difficult to extract from any party in the future, no matter how powerful it is. The AYUFD calls the competent authorities in all Arab countries to enforce the law, respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of the press and media, and to refrain from exceeding legal limits in dealing with citizens, political bodies, syndicates, civil institutions or other groups or segments of society.

The AYUFD looks at the promotion of free thought in the social media in the Arab world, within a set of strategies, the most prominent of which are:

  • Support Arab youth in their projects to consolidate freedom by contributing to the success of youth activities and programs that promote the support of free thought in the community media, theater, technology and the Internet.
  • Promote freedom of writing, publishing; through disseminating and organizing programs and competitions related to article writing, adventure, poems, writing and publishing books in various political, intellectual, economic and social fields.
  • Disseminate of free thought in the means of social communication, thus the Alliance publishes a monthly electronic bulletin within the information platform available to all Arab youth without restrictions, adopting all views and ideas advocating freedoms and liberal values.
  • Work on developing the educational system, and thus organize the AYUFD in cooperation with the youth of the Arab parties pressure and advocacy campaigns to include liberal values ​​and free thought in the educational curricula of the founding stages.
  • Utilize social media and smart devices in the dissemination of free thought. Therefore, the AYUFD supports and encourages youth to produce short films, smart applications and educational games aimed at young people in the dissemination of liberal values ​​and principles of freedom and free thought in general.
  • Work with legislative authorities to protect free thinking, by encouraging parliamentarians to adopt modernist discourse in their programs, and to ensure that parliamentary sessions are open to discuss issues of freedoms in public.
  • Ensure that the public receives information through the diversity of sources and media. The AYUFD works in cooperation with journalists’ syndicates to carry out their activities in their country or abroad guaranteeing them the best conditions for practicing their profession.
  • Create a public awareness of copyright and free electronic publishing by investing in the tremendous development of ICTs and access to the Internet.
  • Disseminate the experience of the Committee on Individual Freedoms and Tunisian Equality, and disseminate it to the widest extent in the Arab world.

Oct. 2018

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