On May 1st news broke online of the conviction of Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, a 23 year-old Malaysian studying at Imperial College in London, for possession, distribution and production of child pornography in the UK.
Nur Fitri was arrested in a raid on his home in November 2014. UK police found more than 30,000 images and videos of child pornography along with a life-sized mannequin of a young boy. He was studying there on a scholarship given by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) .
On April 30th, MARA terminated the scholarship. However on May 5th news reports circulated saying that MARA would give him a second chance .
This prompted backlash against MARA online in the form of hashtag-driven campaigns, #NoSecondChance and #KeepPaedophilesAwayFromOurKids. The goal of the campaign was to deny a second chance at a scholarship for Nur Fitri, however it is clear that some users misunderstood ‘second chance’ to mean forgiving him and/or letting him go free and return to Malaysia.
Once #NoSecondChance trended in Malaysia, users who were unaware of the campaign started using it for other reasons e.g. referring to not giving ex-boyfriends a second chance; or retaking exams.
There were also rumours online of Malaysians taking pity on Nur Fitri; seeing his activities as harmless because ‘there is no victim’; and users equating child pornography with adult pornography, and therefore harmless.
2. Our Analysis
We performed opinion-based analysis on 421 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about Nur Fitri, #NoSecondChance and related terms from May 1st – May 13th 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.78%.
Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.
Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample. Users talking solely about other issues (e.g. the cause of paedophilia) or using #NoSecondChance to refer to unrelated issues were also excluded.
From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.
Our goal was to gauge public opinion by Malaysian users on Nur Fitri, specifically how forgiving they were and whether they supported proposals that he be given a ‘second chance’.
Based on this analysis we categorised users as belonging to one of the following categories:
- Give Him a Second Chance
- Treat Him First
- Don’t Give Him a Second Chance
- Don’t Forgive Him / Keep Him Imprisoned
- Other Negative Remarks
- Uncategorised (No Opinion / Other Opinions)
Uncategorised opinions are from users who have no clear opinion that matched the criteria of the other stated categories. The results are shown in the chart below.
What follows are the findings for each category.
3.1 Give Him a Second Chance
8 users (1.90%)
These users believed Nur Fitri deserved a second chance. They appeared motivated by pity and concern that his future may be ruined. Among the main reasons expressed were:
- Personal belief in forgiveness
- Support him serving his sentence first and being allowed to continue his studies after that
- Saw him as a porn watcher ‘just like everyone else’ and therefore a victimless crime
3.2 Treat Him First
11 users (2.61%)
Users who believed that Nur Fitri should be treated first before any further discussion about his future. These users saw him as someone with a mental disease, and some expressed pity for him.
3.3 Don’t Give Him a Second Chance
323 users (76.72%)
Users who believed Nur Fitri did not deserve a second chance. Majority were referring to a scholarship, though it was clear that some believed ‘second chance’ referred to walking freely. Nurin Jazlin’s rape and murder was often mentioned as a reason why paedophiles do not deserve a second chance .
For those referring to the scholarship, the following opinions were popularly expressed:
- Scholarships for locals are often revoked or denied for minor reasons
- The scholarship can be given to more deserving students
- A sick individual like him does not deserve funds
- General criticism of MARA for even considering a second chance
- Some comparisons made between Adam Adli’s suspension from UPSI and Nur Fitri being offered a second chance
3.4 Don’t Forgive Him / Keep Him Imprisoned
58 users (13.78%)
Users who were very harsh in their criticism of Nur Fitri and expressed opinions that indicated no forgiveness. Other than specifically stating that he deserved no forgiveness, common opinions expressed by these users were:
- he should be permanently locked up
- he should be barred from coming back to Malaysia
- hopeful that bad things would happen to him in prison
One major concern for these users was that if Nur Fitri was allowed to go free either now or in the future, he may threaten other children. Nurin Jazlin’s case as well as Nurul Huda’s murder  was mentioned by some of these users as justification for their opinion.
3.5 Other Negative Opinions
15 users (3.56%)
Users who were disgusted by what Nur Fitri did or expressing other negative remarks directed at him.
3.6 Uncategorised (No Opinion / Other Opinions)
6 users (1.43%)
Users who were talking about Nur Fitri but not having a clear opinion matching other categories. This included users who were indifferent to what Nur Fitri did because ‘he is just a porn watcher’ and users who felt sorry for him.
4. Additional Opinions
Users tweeting about Nur Fitri also expressed the following opinions/sentiment on related topics. This listing was summarised based on a manual reading of a sample of 789 users in Malaysia, inclusive of the sample used for the above analysis.
These expressions are not indicative of their support for #NoSecondChance, but we are including it here for informative reasons.
4.1 Conspiracy theorists
These users did not believe Nur Fitri was guilty. Their reasons were:
- 30,000 images and videos is ‘too many’ for one person to acquire. Therefore he must have been ‘setup’ by someone.
- It’s a conspiracy by an anti-Islam government to embarrass Islam world-wide
4.2 On the right approach to dealing with paedophiles
These users expressed concern on how the government and society in general views and treats paedophiles. Their main position was that the government should focus on rehabilitation instead of retribution.
Locking them up was seen as no solution. Learning the root causes of paedophilia was considered to be a better approach to dealing with the problem.
4.3 On allegations of the government appealing Nur Fitri’s sentence or MARA giving a second chance
These users included those who believed that the Malaysian government was going to appeal against Nur Fitri’s sentence and bring him home; and those who believed that MARA was going to give a second chance in the form of a scholarship. Their opinions were:
- Criticism of the government for defending Nur Fitri ‘because he has a bright future’
- Allegations that Nur Fitri must be related to someone important to merit special treatment
- Racial criticism – users who stated that if Nur Fitri was not Malay he would be condemned by the government/MARA instead of being helped. It is important to note that racial criticism was not directed at Nur Fitri or the Malay community.
4.4 On the discussion about paedophilia
Many users remarked that Malaysians lack knowledge and understanding on paedophilia, leading them to make ignorant statements such as:
- ‘child porn and adult porn are the same’
- A male user saying he was safe because he was male and therefore wouldn’t be targeted by male paedophiles if he was a kid today
- describing Nur Fitri as ‘someone with different tastes’ and implying that he shouldn’t be prosecuted for it
4.5 Other opinions
These are other opinions expressed by a minority of users.
- Criticism of the media for not highlighting that Nur Fitri was involved in production and distribution of child pornography. The impression was that only possession of child pornography was mentioned.
- “If homosexuality can’t be cured, what hope is there for paedophiles?”
- “We should be more tolerant/forgiving of non-offending paedophiles that look but don’t molest”
- Some fears that Islam would be blamed for paedophilia
The chart below shows the number of users tweeting about the topic each day. Based on the daily activity, the #NoSecondChance campaign and news of MARA offering a second chance helped provoke a response to Nur Fitri’s case. This provocation helped give us data and get a glimpse at users’ views on paedophilia.
The analysis indicates that users in Malaysia would not accept MARA giving Nur Fitri a scholarship. Beyond that, expressions of hatred were more numerous than those in favour of forgiveness or treatment. However these expressions of hatred did not target his family; his race; or his religion.
Islam only featured in expressions of pity for Nur Fitri, where some users prayed that he repent and/or that Allah would help him.
There is also the issue of users who do not see the difference between child pornography and adult pornography, which may have led them to have a neutral position or be supportive of a second chance.
It is clear that Malaysians need to be educated on a number of topics related to paedophilia:
- what child pornography is
- the difference between adult pornography and child pornography
- why viewing child pornography is not a victimless crime
- how to protect children from paedophiles
This would help them to understand the issue of paedophilia and know how to discuss it and help to prevent it.
6. About the Population Sample
The results reflect a young demographic, by our estimates to be between 18 – 30 years old. Users were almost evenly divided between Bahasa Malaysia and English speakers:
- 43% Bahasa Malaysia speakers
- 45% English speakers
- 12% Bilingual speakers
This network graph shows how Twitter users tweeting about Nur Fitri and the #NoSecondChance campaign from May 1st – May 13th were connected. This includes all users on Twitter limited to those who retweeted or had conversations with each other. This helps visualise the scale of the conversation.
Each user is represented by a node (circle) that is coloured based on the number of their tweets that were retweeted and the number of tweets sent to them. The more attention they receive, the larger the node. Any node that retweets another node or tweets to another node is connected.
Nodes are positioned based on their connections to other nodes – strong connections pull them closer. For example, the cluster of nodes surrounding @khairykj represent users who retweeted him and had little to no interaction with the other nodes in the graph. Large nodes are considered influential within the network.
There are 16,127 users with 22,694 connections within this graph. The most popular users were:
7. Popular Content
The following tweets are among the most popularly shared tweets / images on this topic.
Harap MARA tidak membazir duit rakyat. #NoSecondChance
— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) May 6, 2015
Aktivis siswa digantung, pesalah pedofil disanjung dan dianggap aset negara. I cannot brain this. #NoSecondChance
— Muzaffar Mustapa (@sultanmuzaffar) May 6, 2015
If MARA wants to let Nur Fitri continue his studies locally, where would he go? UiTM? So UiTM accepts paedophiles but not other races?
— Hadi Harun (@hadiharhar) May 5, 2015
The case of Nur Fitri shows us even you're a genius and excellence in your studies, if your iman is weak, there is nothing to be proud of.
— Husna Nasser (@HusnaNasser) May 5, 2015
Some say Nur Fitri is young & young ppl do stupid things. Stupid things would be getting wasted, skipping lectures, pulling stupid pranks.
— Nik Nor Zafirah (@zaffyaffendi) May 5, 2015
— Muhammad HafizRayyan (@HafizRayyan) May 6, 2015
— Akem (@Akem_MY) May 6, 2015
— Rin (@tsundayrae) May 4, 2015
For those yg masih blm tau siapa Nur Fitri si pedofil. Jelas membuktikan,even kau genius, ia bukan tiket kau berjaya. pic.twitter.com/hHHhtLLSSI
— Kepala Hotak Kamu (@Real_KHK) May 6, 2015
Some thoughts on the Nur Fitri case. pic.twitter.com/9MPrFPFx8o
— Amir Shahmi (@ShahmiNazir) May 5, 2015
8. Location of users
Based on geo-tagged tweets, we are able to determine where users often tweet from. This is indicative of where they spend most of their time e.g. work-place, university, residence.
Blue markers = support; Red markers = not support; Yellow markers = Uncategorised
8.1 West Malaysia
8.2 East Malaysia
9. References Dean, L. (2015, May 1) London: Imperial College student Nur Nordin possessed most extreme child porn police have ever seen. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/london-imperial-college-student-nur-nordin-possessed-most-extreme-child-porn-police-have-ever-seen-1499256  (2015, May 5) MARA to give Nur Fitri Azmeer a second chance. Astro Awani. Retrieved from http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/mara-give-nur-fitri-azmeer-second-chance-59340  (2015, April 27) Murder of Nurin Jazlin. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Nurin_Jazlin  (2010, September 14), Sexual assault on 10-year-old stuns the nation. New Straits Times. Retrieved from http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20100914-237070.html