Cyberwarriors and Counterstars: Contesting Religious Radicalism and Violence on Indonesian Social Media

in Asiascape: Digital Asia
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Abstract

In Indonesia, social media offer a site for countering Islamic radicalism and violence. But what kinds of counternarratives or counterdiscourses can be distinguished on social media? This article explores the question by focusing on one social media counterinitiative: that of the ‘cyberwarriors’, volunteers who battle Islamic radicalism on social media with memes, hash tags, comics, and videos as their weapons of choice. By practicing a threefold ‘politics of threat’, ‘exceptionality’, and ‘inspiration’, cyber warriors construct a counternarrative in which ulama and kyai, traditional figures of religious authority, are transformed into hip, strong, cool, and ‘iconic’ ‘counterstars’, whose legacy shields the country from radicalism. In this process, traditional religious authority is simultaneously (re)claimed and further fragmented, while users are offered the tools to model themselves after ulama to help them save the country.

Cyberwarriors and Counterstars: Contesting Religious Radicalism and Violence on Indonesian Social Media

in Asiascape: Digital Asia

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Figures

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    Instagram post encouraging users to join in the online struggle against radicalism (@ala_nu, 28 December 2016).
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    Drawing posted on instagram and facebook (@alu_nu, 1 February 2017).
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    Image posted on facebook (@ikhwan_rembang, 16 January 2017).
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    Image posted on instagram and twitter (@ikhwanrembang, 5 November 2016)
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    Image posted on instagram and facebook (@ikhwanrembang, 31 October 2016).
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    Image posted on instagram, facebook, and twitter (@ikhwanrembang, 21 October 2016).
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    A post showing Ahmad Hasyim Muzadi in the hospital (@ala_nu, 12 January 2017).
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    Image posted on instagram and twitter (@ikhwanrembang, 19 November 2016).
  • View in gallery
    Image posted on instagram (@ala_nu, 19 January 2017).
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    Image posted on twitter (@ansor_jatim, 18 October 2016).
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    Image posted on facebook (@ikhwanrembang, 19 October 2016).
  • View in gallery
    Image posted on twitter (@ansor_jatim, 19 October 2016).
  • View in gallery
    Image posted on facebook (@ikhwanrembang, 22 December 2016).
  • View in gallery
    Image posted on facebook (@ikhwanrembang, 21 October 2016).
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    Image posted on facebook (@ikhwanrembang, 29 October 2016).
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    Sketsa Islam Kita comic (@ikhwan_rembang, 22 January 2017).
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    Sketsa Islam Kita comic strip (@ikhwan_rembang & @fihril, 16 January 2017).
  • View in gallery
    Sketsa Islam Kita comic strip (@ikhwan_rembang & @fihril, 5 January 2017).

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