Social Media, Religion and Political Violence

15 June 2015 - 18 June 2015, 09:30-17:00
The Open University, Camden, London

This forum examined the role of social media in the online circulation and mobilisation of violent images, narratives and texts by religious groups. It brought together researchers, policy-makers, religious leaders, activists, NGO workers media analysts and journalists to discuss the relationship between social media, religion, and political violence. We addressed issues that are often deemed so highly sensitive that, in themselves, they provoke political and social conflict. We aimed to expose common myths and assumptions about the causes of religious violence today. In so doing, we stressed the importance of drawing on historical and comparative perspectives in order to grasp a more accurate picture of contemporary realities.

Open Univevrsity research suggests that there is a lack of understanding between policy-makers, researchers, journalists, religious and community organisations. Joined up thinking and inter-faith co-operation is required if we are to unlock the key to conflict resolution in contemporary multi-faith societies and glean a better understanding of the attractions and motivations underlying religious violence.

Topics for debate included: How can we explain why some people are attracted to religious extremism and violence? How are public and media debates about religion and violence framed? What role does gender play in these debates? Why are debates about religious violence prone to collapse? How are social media used to motivate or oppose extremist ideologies and religious violence? Do social media help sustain strong extremist political networks or are such affiliations more fragile than is often presumed? In what ways do social media contribute to the branding of religious, political or extremist groups? How could social media be used to encourage peace-building, interfaith dialogue or peaceful social change?

This event was conducted under the Chatham House Rule.It was organised by the Mediating Religion International Network. Contact: Marie Gillespie

FORUM REPORT Cycles of Insecurity Social Media, Religion and Political Violence.docx161.86 KB
AGENDA - Social Media Religion and Political Violence Forum 15061511.docx296.75 KB
BIOGRAPHIES of Participants.docx44.16 KB