Sectarian Battles on YouTube

April 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

While watching al-Jazeera’s exclusive interview with Muqtada al-Sadr (his first televised appearance in about a year) on YouTube, I scrolled down to read the comments. We all know anonymous commenting on YouTube empowers assholes to be bigger assholes and I don’t want to provide a platform for the hatred and prejudice that some people espouse (since these people are usually a minority), but I do want to highlight how sectarian tensions have manifested themselves on YouTube.

Here is the comment from YouTube user “TruthDaTruth” which prompted further investigation:

dirty filthy muqtada the aeroplane of sadri is worthless

The YouTube user “TruthDaTruth” obviously typed his original Arabic into a bad online translator which resulted in “al-Tiyyar al-Sadri” or the Sadr Current/Wing being translated into the “aeroplane of sadri.” In Arabic, “tiyyar” literally means current, like an air or water current, but it used to mean political currents as well. So, the “aeroplane of Sadr” is literally the “Sadr current.”

Anyways — I checked out the guy’s profile and there is an interesting mix of insults and compliments being hurled at TruthDaTruth. (It appears possible that TruthDaTruth is Sunni and harbors some resentment toward Shi’a, but I, nor any of the commenters, know this person’s true identity.)

The comment breakdown:

1) Insults from Shi’a or supporters of Shi’a who do not appreciate his Shi’a bashing.

saudi wahabi lozer,,, saudi wahabi lozer to hell with zarkawi el zarbawi haha and to hell with bin laden bin monkeys hahahaha

2) Insults from individuals who are anti-Muslim and not discriminating between sects.

fuck you, why u named after a Christian rapper u dumb fucked up muslim hahahaha go suck off ya imam u faggot ass bitch

you muslim prick. if you fuckers didnt fly planes into the twin towers there wouldnt be wars all over the shit muslim countries…..
3) Compliments and support from people who appear to be anti-Shi’a. One commenter posted a link to his anti-Shi’a blog which I will not link to here because it is hate speech. Another uses a photo of Bin Ladin as his user photo and expresses support for TruthDaTruth.

Internet as “Real” Speech

I think that many of us define certain Internet spaces as a “community” of sorts. We post videos, photos, and journals on the Internet and many times, people respond. The purpose of this post is to show how certain types of Internet communities are host to some very negative and racist ideas and how they do not serve any constructive purpose whatsoever. I think we have to ask how these Internet “communities” translate into “real” life — but at the same time — I think this question is problematic since the Internet is becoming more integrated into our everyday lives. By this, I mean that the “anonymous commenter” may appear to be a faceless, distant Internet user, but in many societies where the Internet is pervasive, the speech that is made online may just as well have been made face-to-face. Speech made on the internet is “real” speech and should be treated as a tangible phenomenon and not something that exists in some “digital” world of little consequence.

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