Lebanon: Influencers join together to fight hate speech

© Provided by dw.com Mary Joe Frangieh is one of a group of influencers in Lebanon aiming to promote societal harmony

Lebanon has no shortage of thorny issues sparking controversies that are often carried out on social media. The country has a tech-savvy population: Internet penetration is close to 80% — which translates to 5.3 million people — 4.37 million of whom are active on social media, according to datareportal.com.

Seeing as the small country has a population of just 6.8 million overall, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Lebanese influencers like Nadine Njeim with 2.8 million followers on Facebook, TV host Amanie Geha with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter or Ghayd Chammas with close to 334,000 followers on Instagram can indeed shape opinions.

To harness this popularity for a good cause, the Lebanese office of the Berlin-based Berghof Foundation has hand-picked a group of 20 influencers whose mission is to de-escalate issues that are being heatedly discussed online.

“Communication is vital in promoting tolerance and mutual understanding, and social media is an ideal tool for that,” Ali Anan, head of the project in Beirut, told DW on the phone.

Covering the spectrum

The €250,000 ($294,000) project, funded by Norway, started three days before the devastating blast at the port in Beirut in August last year. “But everything and everyone was dealing with the aftermath of the explosion, so effectively we started the project only in early 2021,” Anan explained.

The influencers represent the whole spectrum of religious communities found in the Lebanese population, which consists of around 61% Muslims (30.6% Sunni, 30.5% Shiite, smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis), 33.7% Christians, 5.2% Druze and a small minority of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists and Hindus.

However, the influencers also cover the entire political range, from the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah to the Christian Marada party, as well as a variety of genders and sexual orientations.

“We carried over some Muslim influencers from a previous project that dealt with sectarian issues only and chose the rest according to their number of followers and their willingness and inclination to work together, as well as to work on this project for free,” Anan said. The funding for the project only covers expenses, such as those involved in producing a video for a campaign against monopolies in Lebanon.

Success is changing attitudes

“The biggest achievement of the project is that our own influencers met and even became friends,” Anan said. This may sound like no big deal, but in fact, it really is quite a feat considering the competition in the field of social media. “Having 400K followers does go to your head, and we had people who had previously blocked each other’s accounts,” he said.

One of the influencers is Mohammad Awwad, who hails from Byblos and now lives in Beirut. The 30-year-old is active on Facebook with around 4,500 followers.

“I am a Shiite who grew up in a society that taught me to hate the Sunnis,” he told DW on the phone. In his 20s, he became a leading member in the political Shiite Amal Movement. “But as I started to mature and meet people, I understood that I have been fed hatred for nothing. I eventually resigned from my position at the party and became an independent Shiite who opposes the politics of both leading parties, Amal and Hezbollah,” he told DW.

As one of the influencers in the group, Awwad was among the first to react when members of Hezbollah and Arab tribes clashed in Khaldeh south of Beirut during the funeral of the Hezbollah militant Ali Shibli this August. “I mediated online between both parties to stop the violence,” he said. On the ground, the Lebanese police intervened.

“Several of our influencers who had contacts and influence on different sides sprang into action and helped behind the scene in mediating and de-escalating the tensions, helping Lebanon avoid more bloodshed and suffering,” Anan said.

‘Not just a pretty face’

The 39-year-old Lebanese Christian Mary Joe Frangieh tweets from the northern city of Zgharta. “Never in my wildest dreams I would have thought that I would become friends with a Muslim sheikh,” Frangieh told DW on the phone.

She has since changed her opinion on many issues. “I am really proud of myself that I was able to break the barrier,” she told DW. Frangieh appeals to her readers to ” stop making everything religious; the problems are political.” She sees herself as a peacemaker and “not just a pretty face.” For this reason, she actively comments on issues that interest the 25,000 followers on her Twitter account, issuing more than 70,000 tweets.

Professionally, Frangieh works in the media department of the Christian liberal party Marada, whose leader, Suleiman Frangieh Jr., is one of the contenders in the hotly anticipated Lebanese presidential elections due in the middle of next year. It is no coincidence that they carry the same last name. “Our grandfathers were brothers,” she said.

Ali Anan doesn’t see any conflicts of interest in the personal or professional backgrounds of his influencer group. “We didn’t try to develop new influencers according to our likes,” he explains, and adds: “Their outlook is the important thing, as well as the tone of their tweets.” And this, he believes, will carry on even after the end of the project in October this year.

Author: Jennifer Holleis, Razan Salman

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Modi to visit Kedarnath on 5 November

© Provided by The Statesman Modi to visit Kedarnath on 5 November Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kedarnath in Uttarakhand on 5 November. Modi will offer prayers at the ... Read more »

KC man charged after police find AR-15 rifle and about 10 pounds of meth: indictment

A Kansas City man faces three felony charges in federal court after police searched his home earlier this month and found a large quantity of meth, an AR-15 style rifle ... Read more »

Next-gen BMW M2 coming in 2023 with rumored 450 hp

Bimmerpost forum user ynguldyn, who regularly comes up with reliable gossip on what other forum members can look forward to from the Munich automaker, dropped a few tidbits on two much ... Read more »

McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt resigns

McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt will step down after eight years leading the closely held company, which has started a search for a successor. The Woking, England-based supecar ... Read more »

Sinema reached prescription drug negotiation deal with Biden

Kyrsten Sinema struck an agreement on prescription drug pricing with President Joe Biden as part of Democrats’ social spending talks, though it’s at risk of ultimately being excluded as the ... Read more »

Prayagraj: UPSESSB declares PGT-2021 results for 10 subjects

© Provided by Hindustan Times UPSESSB headquarters in Prayagraj. The UPSESSB PGT result 2021 is available on the official website upsessb.pariksha.nic.in (HT FILE PHOTO) The Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection Board ... Read more »

How to create a group in Riders Republic

One of the most unique things about Riders Republic is the game’s pure dedication to multiplayer. It’s such an integral part of the game that you can’t even fully enjoy ... Read more »

Adele 2022 Hyde Park : How to get presale tickets TODAY

ADELE has announced two big comeback gigs at British Summertime Hyde Park this summer. The Easy on Me singer will play two huge London shows next July and here's how ... Read more »

How to beat the Shackles brain boss in Act 1 of Darkest Dungeon 2

Three expeditions across hellish zones. These are what you need to do in a single run in Darkest Dungeon 2 without failing. If you manage to triumph against all odds, ... Read more »

West Africa bloc says Mali envoy's expulsion 'extreme'

West Africa bloc ECOWAS on Thursday branded Mali’s recent expulsion of its representative as “extreme,” and said it would continue pushing for a transition to civilian rule in the Sahel ... Read more »

Keep out-of-control nether regions in shape with this Manscaped set

Manscaped The number pretty much says it all: About 96 percent of partners think bad grooming is a major turnoff. So if that many people who might otherwise like you ... Read more »

Three things to know: Preseason title favorites Nets, Lakers continue to stumble

© Provided by NBC Sports Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you ... Read more »

Jersey offers 162 fishing licences after ultimatum

Jersey has offered fishing licences to 162 French vessels after an ultimatum was issued by France. © Getty Images France said on Wednesday if there was no agreement by 2 ... Read more »

Whether It is 1990 or 2021, Pandits Remain the Soft Targets in Kashmir

© Provided by News18 Whether It is 1990 or 2021, Pandits Remain the Soft Targets in Kashmir “Kashmir remains unsafe for the Hindus even after three decades of our exodus. ... Read more »

Mum forced to live in vile mould-ridden council flat ‘not fit for DOGS' as her daughters, 2 and 9, suffer coughing fits

A 'DEPRESSED' mum has been forced to live in a sickening mould-ridden home “not fit for DOGS” as her children suffer coughing fits from being in the flat. Imogen Page, ... Read more »

In Pictures: Rivers in full spate as Cumbria sees rising water levels

Travellers in southern Scotland and northern England have been grappling with the rain as communities braced for rising water levels. Weather warnings of heavy rain are in force, including an ... Read more »

Dead lizard found inside packed snacks in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli, image goes viral

An image of a lizard inside a packet of pakora has gone viral on social media. The packet of pakora was allegedly bought from a sweets and snacks shop in ... Read more »

Sudan envoy to US, others fired after condemning coup

Sudan’s envoys to the United States and several other countries were fired on Wednesday after condemning the military’s takeover of the government, a military official told The Associated Press. © ... Read more »

Jalen Hurts: Joe Flacco's mentorship meant a lot to me

© Provided by NBC Sports The Eagles traded Joe Flacco to the Jets this week, meaning starting quarterback Jalen Hurts no longer has the veteran mentor he’s relied on this ... Read more »

‘World's biggest spider' scurries around house leaving terrified viewers convinced it's ‘a demon'

HORRIFYING footage of an enormous spider creeping through a house has left shocked viewers insisting “a demon” has been caught on camera. The clip shows the gigantic creature on a ... Read more »

Rob Burrow's dad Geoff slams Government for failing to fund and support MND campaign

Rob Burrow’s father has slammed the Government for failing to pledge funding and support for the United to End MND campaign. The group, that has appealed for more research into ... Read more »

Mum's agony as son, 10, is left in tears after being bullied over his ‘Iron man' costume

A MUM has revealed her agony after her 10-year-old son was bullied over his ‘Iron Man’ costume. Jill Struckman had proudly shared a picture of son Evan dressed up as ... Read more »

Love Life season 2: Everything you need to know including trailer, release date and cast

Photo credit: HBO Max – HBO HBO Max's Love Life is coming back for a second season, and we're ready for more tales about the modern world of dating in ... Read more »

Guitar once owned by Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett fetches almost £20,000 at auction

A guitar once owned by Pink Floyd founder member Syd Barrett has sold at auction for £19,920. The 12-string Yamaha acoustic guitar fetched almost double its pre-sale estimate of £5,000 ... Read more »

Man Charged And Another Arrest Made Over Threats To Labour's Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner is currently away from parliament after suffering the loss of a loved one. (Photo: Leon Neal via Getty Images) A man has been charged and another arrest has ... Read more »

Upgrade your oral health with 70% off multifunctional electric toothbrush

Oral care is an extremely important part of self-care, and something that, if not properly attended to, can contribute to significant problems down the road. Having a top-quality toothbrush — ... Read more »

This TikTok doctor is highlighting the unusual breast cancer symptoms we should look out for

Photo credit: Drazen Zigic – Getty Images As we near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), one doctor has taken to TikTok to highlight the unusual symptoms we ... Read more »

The best autumnal walks in London

Mix things up with one of London’s most picturesque walks (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd) It is the season for blustery walks and warming pub pitstops. So, lace up your boots ... Read more »

Beautiful gold paperclip chain necklace makes great gift at 20% off

The holiday season is upon us! And with a serious supply chain crisis upon us, the early-bird shoppers will truly get the worm … and the discounts! It’s never been ... Read more »

Market Movers: United Spirits puts on a resilient show amid market collapse

MUMBAI: While most investors were sulking today, those of United Spirits were overjoyed. The stock withstood the selling storm in the market with aplomb as it closed 1.2 per cent ... Read more »

A software engineer spent 8 hours daily applying to entry-level coding jobs for 6 months. She was rejected 357 times before receiving an offer.

© 5432action/Getty Images A woman codes in python (not Sophia Cheong). 5432action/Getty Images After working in the restaurant industry for six years, Sophia Cheong decided to learn how to code. ... Read more »

Man, woman face charges of sexual assault and neglect

Oct. 28—PRINCETON — A Mercer County man and woman are facing charges including first-degree sexual assault and gross neglect of a child creating a substantial risk of death or serious ... Read more »

Philippines posts 3,694 new COVID-19 cases; active tally at 49K

© Danny Pata People walk on Ylaya Street in Tondo, Manila on Monday, August 23, 2021, the third day of the modified enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region. ... Read more »

Adele fans 'devastated' as pre-sale tickets sell out after 'insane' queues

Adele is playing two shows in London. (Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) Adele fans have said they are “devastated” after pre-sale tickets for her London shows sold out ... Read more »

Tyson Fury will 'definitely' make WWE return and is 'in touch with Vince McMahon'

Paris Fury has stated that her husband Tyson Fury will ‘definitely’ wrestle for WWE again and make a return to the sport. The WBC heavyweight champion previously fought against Braun ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic