12 Apr 2014 - 1:04
The recall of their ambassadors in Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates has sparked a row in social media, with some people using foul and threatening language. Citizens of the GCC states have traded insults and rhetoric not seen in recent times in the Arab world. This has worried some officials as it can have an adverse impact on the social fabric in these countries.
The sharp exchanges have stooped so low that social media users are hurling abuse at each other. Some comments have got personal, while others question the origin of the people of a particular country.
Commentators from one country have tried to discredit the history of those from another by claiming that they are the original inhabitants of this land while the others are migrants. Netizens have also attacked rulers and officials of each other’s country.
Some have gone so far as to suggest that free movement of citizens within the GCC countries should be stopped. They say that citizens of a particular country should not be allowed to move freely in other countries as they may pose a security threat.
Some people have created fake accounts and posted fabricated stories and comments to create misunderstanding. Some social media accounts have also been hacked.
Experts are of the view that ordinary citizens should not engage in such heated debates because the issue is one between governments and will be solved sooner or later through diplomatic means. Once the differences are ironed out, people will have to leave behind their bitterness, they say.
Social media channels have provided people platforms to discuss the issue freely, but they need to remember that these should not be misused by using foul language.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other such websites have been flooded with comments on the issue by people from around the Arab world.
While some people have discussed the implications of the dispute on unity among GCC countries and engaged in a healthy debate on its various aspects, some others are unnecessarily whipping up passions by posting inciting comments.
One comment which infuriated netizens was a tweet by Dahi Khalfan, vice chair of Dubai Police and Public Security, in which he called Qatar the “eighth emirate” of the UAE.
Noted Qatari woman journalist Dr Elham Bader Al Sada has filed a complaint with Qatar’s Public Prosecution against Khalfan for his provocative remarks against Qatar and its people.
Many people say they are surprised to see senior officials using such language because they are expected to create harmony in society.