Over one hundred applications arrived from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina in response to the invitation issued by the Organisation ‘Ja bih u EU’ to young people to join the activities within the project Young bh. Digital Monitors ‘HUB for Safety – recognising and reporting violent extremism’. The project is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the five modules of the Academy, which will be held in three cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the young monitors, together with leading experts from Europe and the region, will learn how to recognise and monitor content on social media that includes hate speech and violent extremism.

Youngsters and lecturers at the first module of the Academy in Bihać

The first module of the Academy, ‘Definition of Hate Speech, Radicalism, Violent Extremism’, was held in Bihać. It was presented by the experts Anida Sokol, Jennifer Adams and Admir Malagić and attended in person or online by 40 young people from Bihać, Tuzla, Sarajevo, Prijedor, Cazin, Bosanska Krupa, Živinica, Banovića and Gračanica.

Aladin Muranović, a participant at the Academy, said “There is a very thin line between hate speech and freedom of speech. It often happens that we mistake constructive criticism for hate speech but the discussion at the Academy helped us recognise and understand the difference ourselves, in order to actively participate in preventing hate speech.

Anida Sokol, a lecturer and expert at the ‘Mediacentar Sarajevo’, said “Harmful content of social networks can lead young people to extreme behaviours. Therefore, it is extremely important that young people begin to develop awareness of this topic and to learn to recognise various forms of this content, to develop media literacy in the entire society and thereby strengthen preventive action.”

Discussion at the first module of the Academy in Bihać

In addition to the content that young people find or identify on social networks, it is important that they learn to recognise trends within these narratives.

Admir Malagić, spokesman for the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated “The Digital Security Hub combines these two goals and is a good example of the support of the non-governmental sector to government institutions in the implementation of strategic measures and strengthening society's resistance to security threats.

The first module of the Academy showed that young people are interested in educating themselves as well as engaging in and contributing towards the prevention of hate speech and violent online content. Isidora Trivković, a student at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of East Sarajevo, shared her first impressions of the Academy with us. “A deeply divided society like ours is a suitable ground for the development of hate speech. With the expansion of social networks and digital technologies there is also an increase in the use of hate speech. The ability to remain anonymous on social networks provides users with the security to share and create offensive content without fear of sanctions. The equalisation of public and online space and the adoption of better legislation would lead to the suppression of this problem.

The next module of the Academy will be held in Tuzla on 28 November this year, when more will be said about extremism in the cyber/digital space.

You will be able to find all information about the project and its future activities on the website and social networks of the organization Ja BiH u EU at www.jabiheu.ba.

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