In response to the extensive western media coverage of the advancement of the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” towards the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, social media activists launched on Tuesday, Oct 14, a campaign to refute what some saw as mere allegations or psychological war. Over the past week, many bloggers, particularly Facebook users, who are usually very active in commenting on political and security developments, refrained from commenting on news about ISIL gaining more grounds in Iraq and is now less than 10 miles from the capital Baghdad and its main international airport. Yet on Tuesday the number of the posts challenging such claims increased dramatically. Overall posts were overpowered by emotions with users expressing sentimentality towards the historic value of Baghdad and in many times seemed to be aiming at raising morale. A number of users adopted the usual conspiracy theory accusing the U.S as well as some Arab media of spreading such allegation as part of a psychological war to eventually pave the way to dividing Iraq”.
Some bloggers argued that the American administration is using ISIL as tool to exhaust the Shia militias and eventually rally support to dismantle them and please its Arab Gulf allies. Others claimed the news about ISIL approaching Baghdad is a deceptive game played by ISIL to force the Iraqi army and/or the supporting militias to move troops from provinces such as Anbar, Nineva and Salaheldien to Baghdad. A less number of bloggers had a realistic approach warning that the western media reports should be alerting to the Iraqi leadership as well as people. Calls for better security preparations, including the need for US ground troops, to defend the capital and stop ISIL were echoed by some who also stated that they do not think that the US will send these kind of troops.
Campaign Logo and Facebook Page However, the most popular response was characterized by a campaign titled ” بغداد_بخير# (Baghdad is good or fine). A hashtag of the campaign Arabic title has been extensively trending on Facebook and Twitter with users posting photos and sometimes videos of different parts of Baghdad and its suburbs to refute allegations about any ISIL presence in these area. A Facebook post calling on users to share photos of their Baghdadi neighborhoods and use the campaign hashtags